Life of kidnapped Canadian woman journalist in danger -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Life of kidnapped Canadian woman journalist in danger

By Mushtaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR: Taliban militants holding the Canadian woman journalist, Khadija Abdul Qahaar, in North Waziristan tribal region Wednesday threatened to kill her if their demands were not met by the end of March.
The Canadian government, it may be mentioned here, has reportedly refused to either negotiate with Taliban militants or pay them any ransom for the release of its national. Rather, it pledged to send its own security personnel to assist Pakistani law-enforcement agencies in their efforts for recovery of the aged lady journalist and her two Pakistani helpers. The Taliban demanded two million dollars for her release.
She appealed to the Canadian embassy and human rights organisations to help in her release from militants’ captivity. The woman complained her life was in danger and the time was running out fast.
In videotape released by suspected Taliban militants on Tuesday, the woman journalist feared her kidnappers could kill her if their demands were not accepted by the end of March. She has been videoed in a dark room with a dagger lying on the wall in the background. The woman pointed to the dagger on the wall and said the Taliban could behead her as they did with the Polish engineer.
In a previous footage, which was released around the end of February, two militants carrying AK-47 assault rifles were shown standing behind the Canadian woman. On that occasion, she had pointed to two armed men and their assault rifles and said they could kill her if their demands were not accepted.
“I am Khadija Abdul Qahaar. I am a convert to Islam. I am Canadian national and am currently being held by the Taliban in some place near the Afghan border, either in Pakistan or Afghanistan, I am not quite sure. I was captured by the Taliban four months. The previous video was made and distributed to my embassy and Pakistan government, NGOs and other organisations to try and meet the demands of the Taliban for my release.
“Unfortunately, nothing has happened. Now I have been advised to make this new video. We have very short time now. I am going to be killed at any time as you can see the dagger. I am going to be beheaded like the Polish engineer probably by the end of month as their deadline is by the end of March that is I am not sure 18 days or 16 days, I am not sure.
“The time is now very short and my life is going to end, so I need someone to help me, either the Pakistan government or my own country. Somebody will have to move now because my life is going to be over. I want to go home,” the 55-year-old lady said in the videotape, which was also made available to The News.
It may be due to the long detention of the Canadian woman by Taliban militants, the aging woman seems emotional at end of the videotape as she said in a choke voice, “I have been in their captivity for a long time…its too long now and they are going to kill me like the Polish engineer. These people are serious, please help me. Please do something to help me. The responsibility of this will be on somebody shoulders. I haven’t done any thing wrong. The Taliban want their demands met. So I am pleading please help me and save my life,” the worried woman journalist implored.
It is worth mentioning that the Canadian journalist was kidnapped on November 12, last year. She was on her way to Miramshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan, along with two other Pakistani nationals.
One of them, Salman Khan was a student of chartered accountancy and she took him along as interpreter, while the other one, identified as Zar Mohammad, is a personal assistant of the woman journalist. Both of them were also kidnapped and are still missing.
Sources told this correspondent that she was trying to visit a house at Janikhel area of FR Bannu, where five people, including a low-level al-Qaeda operative, were killed in first-ever missile attack in settled district of NWFP by the US drone.
They had reportedly rented a car from a taxi stand in Bannu to take them to Janikhel in the FR Bannu and were kidnapped when they reached Sra Dargah area in Bannu. Taliban militants, often seen patrolling the Bannu-Miramshah road in their pick-up trucks, were noticed intercepting their car and dragging them out of the taxicab.
They were reportedly bundled into a double-cabin truck that drove them away towards North Waziristan. The aged Canadian journalist had reportedly embraced Islam and was settled in Islamabad. In her previous videotape, the woman journalist was shown urging the two governments- Pakistan and Canada- to accept demands of her kidnappers so that they set her free.
In the videotape, which was also provided to this correspondent, Khadija said she came to Pakistan first in early 2008 and then in July. She said in July she went to Bannu and met a man possessing old Islamic-era coins and wanted to sell. She got the coins and went back to London.
However, second time when she came back to Bannu, Taliban kidnapped her and shifted to their hideout. “I wake up in the dark and I go to sleep in the dark and I am very, very sick,” she had complained in her previous videotape. Government officials said the Canadian government in a letter to the Pakistan government refused to either negotiate or pay any ransom to the kidnappers.
Keeping in mind the gruesome beheading of Polish geologist Piotr Stanczak by the Darra Adamkhel-based Taliban on February 7, Pakistani officials are seriously worried about the life of the woman and are reportedly trying to find alternative means for a safe recovery of the Canadian citizen.
Source: The News
Date:3/19/2009