Captors want to swap journalist,assistants for jailed colleagues -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Captors want to swap journalist,assistants for jailed colleagues

PESHAWAR: Alleged kidnappers of a Canadian journalist and her two local assistants have reportedly demanded release of their detained colleagues from Bagram jail in Afghanistan in exchange for release of the three captives.

The Canadian journalist was kidnapped some two months ago from Bannu district. Independent sources told The News that the alleged kidnappers based in Janikhel, a semi-tribal area in Bannu district, have also planned to demand Rs10 million as ransom for the release of the Canadian journalist, Khadija Abdul Qahar.

The sources also contradicted a report that the kidnapped persons had been shifted to Miramshah, but were insisting that the kidnapped persons had been in the captivity of a local commander in Janikhel area for the last two months.

Known as Beverly Giesbrecht before embracing Islam, Khadija, 52, along with local translator Salman and cook-cum-driver Zar Muhammad was on her way to Miramshah in North Waziristan via Sra Darga area by a taxi when kidnapped at gunpoint on November 11 last year.

The local administration and law-enforcement agencies claimed to have expedited efforts for safe and early recovery of the kidnapped persons, but till date they found no clue to the identity of kidnappers and their whereabouts.

The family members of local assistants of the Canadian national, who wanted to keep secret the kidnapping of their relatives, claimed they had not received any information from the government or the kidnappers.

Khadija Abdul Qahar, an owner and publishera of jihadunspun.com, was reportedly based in Islamabad before her abduction. In an “urgent request” posted on her website on October 22 under her byline, Qahaar asked for help in getting out of Pakistan, which she described as “erupting into a full-scale war zone.”

She said that, she and her team had to leave the country, but don’t have funds to get out. “As a woman, I have already had a few close calls in the tribal areas as kidnappers and thieves are running loose even in Peshawar,” she wrote.

At the end of her story, Qahar lists payment options of Paypal, credit card and Western Union.

Prior to launching the website aimed at inspiring “others to Islam and to take a stand against this shameful war on terrorism,” Qahar was a self-described publishing entrepreneur and web developer. Qahar is divorced with one child.

When contacted by phone elder brother of Salman told this scribe that neither they got any demand from the kidnappers nor any contact from the government side for the recovery of his brother. “We are worried about the safety of our brother,” he said and added that his brother’s association with the Canadian journalist was totally by chance. “Our father had died years ago, but my aged mother is dying for her missing son,” he said and requested not to publish details about his family for certain reasons.

Mrs Shumaila, wife of Zar Muhammad, another Pakistani kidnapped with Qahar, told The News by phone that her 39-year-old husband was less-educated and belongs to a poor family who was hired by the Canadian woman as a cook.

She said they received no information about the whereabouts of her husband or other kidnapped persons. “We appeal to the kidnappers, whether they are the Taliban or professional kidnappers, to release my husband as he had nothing to do with the government or others who are fighting against Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” she said in sobbing voice.

Father of a four-month-old baby girl, Zar Muhammad married Shumaila couple of years ago. “My husband is the lone bread-earner for our family,” Shumaila said and added that they had no money for the release of Zar Muhammad. “At the moment I am praying and waiting for safe and early recovery of my husband,” she said, and requested that her location should not be disclosed in the press.

Source: The News

Date:1/8/2009