Tariq Azizuddin is back

Tariq Azizuddin, Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan who had been kiddnapped for 97 days, has been returned.1 Ismail Khan’s article on the subject in Dawn is full of quotes by an unnamed government official:

“The first couple of days were hard on him. But later his captors treated him well,” the official said.
He insisted that Mr Azizuddin’s kidnappers initially did not know who he was. “They just spotted a vehicle bearing a red registration number plate and thought that it was carrying someone important.
The official insisted that Azizuddin’s captors released him as a goodwill gesture following the prisoners’ swap between the militants and the authorities and the military pullout from the Mehsud part of South Waziristan.
“There has been no ransom paid and no special prisoner exchange in this case,” he maintained.

But, as we all know, (even the official, apparently):

Pakistani authorities have released 50 militants in return for the release of army and paramilitary personnel and some government officials.
The official who spoke to Dawn said the militants were still holding 20 to 25 paramilitary personnel and their release was still awaited. “But major hurdles have been cleared. The army has been pulled back, exchange of major prisoners has taken place and the ambassador released.

So… was he part of a prisoner exchange or not? The answer seems pretty clear.
In the meantime, a kidnapped soldier of the Bajaur Scouts was found dead2 near the Pashat bazaar in Salarzai tehsil on Friday, a fact that isn’t exactly receiving a huge amount of media attention.
This article at Memri has more has more about the NWFP government’s May 11 agreement with the Taliban for the implementation of Sharia in seven of NWFP’s districts.

The paper stated that shari’a courts will be created in the seven districts, and that these courts will have the power to deliver Islam-compliant verdicts such as amputating the hands of individuals convicted of theft, administering 80 lashes or stoning for convicted rapists, or enforcing qisas – a principle that permits “like punishment” for a crime.
According to the paper, judges will be required to have knowledge of shari’a. Those who do not will be transferred to other districts of the province, and their positions will be filled by judges who do, and who have qualified at an Islamic university. Also under the deal, ulema will be appointed as assistants to the judges of the shari’a courts.

This is pretty huge, but again, not a big deal in the media.

1Azizuddin is home after 97 days May 18, 2008 Dawn, by Ismail Khan
2Kidnapped soldier found dead May 17, 2008, Dawn
3Pakistan Takes Steps Towards Shari’a State In Seven Districts May 16, 2008, Memri


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