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Pakistani envoy in Taliban custody
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | April 19, 2008 17:57 IST
Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin, who went missing in February, on Saturday appeared in a video beamed by an Arabic TV channel and said he was being held by the Taliban.
The footage aired by Dubai-based Al Arabiya channel showed Azizuddin, his driver Gul Nawaz and guard Amir Sultan surrounded by armed militants.
The envoy urged the Pakistan government to take steps for their release, including accepting the Taliban's demands and freeing all Taliban cadres currently in custody.
The channel said the video was recorded on March 8, almost a month after Azizuddin went missing in Pakistan's restive Khyber Agency while driving to Kabul.
The envoy, who had grown a beard since his capture, said he was suffering from health problems like "high blood pressure and heart pains". He said he was kidnapped by the Taliban in Khyber Agency while he was on his way to Afghanistan on February 11.
Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said the government was "working closely with mediators" for Azizuddin's release.
He refused to disclose the demands made by the ambassador's kidnappers, but said the government would ensure his release.
Azizuddin went missing with his driver and a guard while driving from his home in the North West Frontier Province capital of Peshawar to Kabul.
He had planned to cross over to Afghanistan via the border post of Torkham in the Khyber Agency.
The envoy spoke in Urdu in the video, but his comments were translated into Arabic by the channel.
The envoy said he, his driver and guard were living "in comfortable conditions and are being looked after".
He called on the Pakistan government and the country's envoys in Iran and China to "do all they can to protect our lives and to answer all the demands of the Taliban in order to secure our release."
The video was Azizuddin's first public statement since he went missing.