British captive in Pakistan released

Asad Qureshi was abducted in March along with 2 ex-Pak intelligence officers.

Islamabad: A British-Pakistani journalist abducted by suspected Islamist militants in Pakistan`s ethnic Pashtun tribal areas in March, has been freed, the British High Commission said on Thursday.

Asad Qureshi was abducted in March along with two former Pakistani intelligence officers when they were visiting the lawless region bordering Afghanistan while working on a documentary on militants for a British television channel.

"Yes, we can confirm that Asad Qureshi has been released," a spokesman for the High Commission said.

He said Qureshi was being given consular assistance but declined to give further details.

A previously unknown militant group, the Asian Tigers, took responsibility for kidnapping the three, whom it accused of spying. The group demanded the release of Afghan Taliban commanders detained in Pakistan in exchange for them.

The bullet-riddled body of one of the retired officers of Pakistan`s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, Khalid Khawaja, was found in April in the North Waziristan region, a major sanctuary for al Qaeda and Taliban militants.

A note found with the body of Khawaja, who became a human rights campaigner and at times helped reporters with their work, said "spies of America" would meet the same fate.

The fate of the other former ISI officer, retired Brigadier Sultan Amir Tarar, also known as Colonel Imam, is not known.

Both Imam and Khawaja had close links with the Taliban and other Islamists.

Imam worked with the US Central Intelligence Agency during the Afghan jihad, or holy war, against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. He trained many mujahideen, or holy warriors, along wit their leaders, including the Afghan Taliban`s elusive chief, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

He also served as Pakistani consul general in Herat in western Afghanistan during Taliban rule and only left the country in 2001 when Pakistan officially abandoned the Taliban and joined the US-led campaign against militancy.

Bureau Report

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