Four Day Deadline Set for US Hostage in Pakistan

 

Quetta, Pakistan- The group claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of American United Nations diplomat John Solecki last month have now set a new deadline for their demands from the Pakistani government. The Baluchistan Liberation United Front are demanding the Pakistani government release 1,109 activists from Baluchistan nationalist groups currently held in Pakistani jails.

The kidnappers are demanding that they be released and have set a deadline of four days in which they announced they will kill the diplomat if their demands were not met by the Pakistani government. The American diplomat who heads the United Nations Refugee agency in Quetta Pakistan was kidnapped on February 2nd and his Pakistani driver was killed during the kidnapping by the militants. They had announced that they would kill the captive within days if their demands were not met last month, but apparently had not followed through with this threat.

The kidnappers sent their most recent demand Sunday March 1st by sending a letter to the offices of a local news agency in Pakistan and also confirmed by a reporter for the Associated Press as well. UN officials reported that they were informed by the government of the latest developments and took the threat seriously.

“John Solecki’s mother and his relatives and international human rights groups should play a role for the recovery of thousands of our sons … who are in state-run torture detention cells,” the one-page letter said.

“The United Nations and state institutions … are forcing us to kill Mr. John Solecki in our protest,” it said.

Violent separatist groups have been waging a long campaign for independence for Baluchistan, an important province that is rich in natural gas and borders Afghanistan and Iran to the southwest. They have no known links to A-Qaeda and Taliban groups who are also fighting Pakistani and American forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border regions. Militants have stepped up attacks on government institutions and also have increased attacking and kidnapping foreign workers in the area. Last month a Polish geologist was beheaded by the militants after the government did not respond to the militants demands for the release of some prisoners.

We at Pakistanis for Peace believe that the depreciable actions of these separatists are to be condemned and we hope that the government of Pakistan is able to secure the release of Mr. John Solecki as soon as possible. He was in Pakistan not as a mercenary or a soldier but as a humanitarian trying to assist the poor refugees of Afghanistan get assistance through the United Nations refugee agency. A person like him who came thousands of miles from his home in the US to assist the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan should be commended for his service and instead he has been taken prisoner and now is threatened with his life. These militants need to be brought to justice and Pakistan’s government should do all it can to secure his release and ensure his safety.

Unfortunately we know that the government of Pakistan is very weak indeed and has been unable to secure many parts of the country. The army is busy fighting the Taliban in the NWFP province and various other militant groups throughout the country. We hope and pray that the kidnappers listen to reason and act in an Islamic manner that does not sanction the killing of innocent people. Mr. Solecki is an innocent individual who is a guest of the country and a man of honor who is in Pakistan for humanitarian reasons and on this basis alone his life needs to be spared and he needs to be released immediately. We hope that his family and friends have the strength during this difficult time and that the kidnappers listen to reason and release him immediately.

Reported by Manzer Munir for www.PakistanisforPeace.com

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