Journalist released by militants missing again -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Journalist released by militants missing again

PESHAWAR: The Taliban militants led by Commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur in North Waziristan on Sunday released a journalist reportedly working for the Associated Press (AP).

He, however, again went missing as his desperate family, friends and colleagues could not reach him on his cell phone despite attempts. After his release, journalist Mohammad Rasheed, who belongs to Rawalpindi, was escorted by armed militants till Mirzael checkpoint located in the Frontier Region Bakakhel near Bannu district.

The Taliban said they could not provide escort to the journalist, who was driving his car, beyond that point as North Waziristan’s boundary ends there. They claimed the area where they left the journalist was a few metres from a military checkpoint, arguing that the security personnel manning the roadside post might have held him for interrogation.

Tribal journalists, who negotiated his release with Taliban, said they were receiving phone calls from his family and friends, saying they had not heard from him yet. The journalists pointed out that he should have reached home as he was released Sunday morning and then taken to FR Bakakhel area around noon.

The Taliban had caught him a week ago from Miramshah, the headquarters of militancy-wrecked North Waziristan tribal region. He said Taliban had announced that journalists violating the ban would be considered a spy. “Punishment for a spy is death,” he reminded.

Journalist Rasheed’s release was made possible due to the efforts of senior journalist and chairman Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ), North Waziristan chapter, Malik Mumtaz Khan, and his colleagues. They managed to convince the Taliban commanders that Rasheed was in fact a professional journalist.

Talking to The News, Malik Mumtaz said Taliban gave the journalist gifts in keeping with tribal traditions and offered excuse for what had happened to him. The tribal journalists at one stage became worried about Rasheed’s fate when the Taliban claimed he did not seem to be a journalist, claiming that they found contradiction in his statements.

Source: The News

Date:1/4/2010