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Pak has no clue on missing envoy's whereabouts
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | February 13, 2008 18:48 IST
Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin, who went missing two days ago while driving to Kabul through the Khyber region, is alive though security forces have not yet been able to locate him, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
"I am sure that he (Azizuddin) is alive," Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said. Pakistani authorities are making all efforts to trace the envoy but have not yet uncovered any clues about his whereabouts, he said.
President Pervez Musharraf [Images] had issued instructions to redouble efforts to trace Azizuddin as soon as possible, Sadiq told a weekly news briefing.
Azizuddin went missing on Monday with his driver and a guard, while driving from North West Frontier Province capital Peshawar to Kabul. He is believed to have been kidnapped by militants in the Khyber Agency.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the militant coalition led by commander Baitullah Mehsud, has denied reports of its involvement in the kidnapping, saying some other group may have abducted the envoy.
The spokesman told reporters in Peshawar that the Pakistani Taliban had announced an unofficial ceasefire and stopped attacks on government officials or installations.
A TV channel had reported on Tuesday that the Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for abducting Azizuddin and expressed their willingness to release him in exchange for the release of Taliban commander Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, who was captured by security forces after a gun battle in Balochistan on Monday.
Sadiq said he had no information on the involvement of foreign elements in the incident. He also ruled out seeking foreign help to trace Azizuddin.
Sadiq declined to comment on reports that some local people were seen in the envoy's car or that the vehicle had been found on Tuesday.
After searching the Jamrud and Ali Masjid areas in Khyber Agency where the envoy was last seen, security forces today fanned out to Darra Adam Khel and the nearby Kurram Agency. Darra Adam Khel recently witnessed pitched battles between the security forces and militants who had taken over the strategic Kohat tunnel that links Peshawar to other parts of the North West Frontier Violence..
Officials in Peshawar said a master plan was being finalised to trace Azizuddin, one of Pakistan's highest ranking diplomats. NWFP Governor Owais Ghani chaired a meeting to review available options to trace the envoy, ranging from a full-fledged security operation to convening a jirga of tribal areas.
Khyber Agency officials have been told by local residents that Azizuddin may have been moved to Aurakzai Agency or Parachinar in Kurram Agency. The officials, however, believe he may have been moved to Darra Ada.