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Friday, May 29, 2009

Syed Saleem Shahzad: Taliban keep grip on kidnapped Canadian & Insinuations of the Rise of Mr. Percentage in Islamabad

Do you remember news reports alleging that President Zardari agreed to pay the Iranians more for their gas then was agreed to by the Iraninan Parliamnet earlier? And now this? Is Mr. Percentage back in full swing again? ~~t

People involved in the backroom negotiations for the release of Khadija, 52, say that she suffered heart problems this week and that her condition is serious. She has a history of heart problems. But the militants holding her will not release her as there is still haggling over the amount of ransom to be paid.

"We had set up all the measures for her release," former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official, retired Squadron leader Khalid Khawaja, told Asia Times Online on Friday. He has been involved in the negotiations for the release of Khadija and her translator Suleman, 18.

"Maulana Fazlur Rahman [the chief of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam party, a coalition partner in the federal government] was involved on behalf of the Canadian government. Initially, the militants did not want to release her, saying she was an American proxy.

"But after Fazlur's involvement, they agreed to let her go for a sum of 60 million rupees [US$740,000]. The deal was finalized and the Canadian government had arranged the money. Then [a few weeks ago] another development took place and everything was spoiled," said Khawaja.

"Everything was being routed through the political agent in North Waziristan [the representative of the federal government]. He demanded that he receive 50% of the payment. According to him, a portion of the money had to go to Governor's House in Peshawar [capital of NWFP], which would then pass on a share to the President's Office in Islamabad.

"This demand [which meant the Canadians would have to pay an additional 30 million rupees] needed new approvals in the Canadian system, and the Canadians lost interest," said Khawaja.

Asia Times Online tried to reach two spokesmen at the President's Office - Farhatullah Babar and Farhanaz Ispahani (married to Hussain Haqqani) - but neither responded.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the international scenario currently present, Zardari's trying to cultivate civil international relations with other countries, and this includes giving some and taking some. Concepts like that of Friends of Pakistan are established through flexibility in one's demands, especially seeing as how Pakistan remains in a position of need, for political and financial aid. We can't always get everything our way, and Zardari is practical and realistic enough to realize that.

May 30, 2009 5:41 AM  

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