Unease after ex-ISI official`s death in Taliban captivity

Sultan Amir Tarar was abducted by militants in North Waziristan region.

Last Updated: Jan 25, 2011, 13:22 PM IST

Islamabad: The death in captivity of former Pakistani intelligence official Sultan Amir Tarar almost a year after he was kidnapped by militants has caused unease among officials and the militants themselves, said a prominent analyst.

"Nothing is clear so far. But it looks like he died apparently from cardiac arrest as he was a heart patient," Pakistani tribal affairs expert Rahimullah Yousufzai told AKI.

Tarar, who was known as Colonel Imam, died of a heart attack 10 months after being abducted by militants in the northwest North Waziristan tribal region, a senior Pakistani government official was quoted in media reports as saying on Monday.

"Nobody is ready to speak about the Imam`s death. The Pakistan Taliban (TTP) did not accept any responsibility and the government is also tight lipped," Yousufzai maintained.

He said that Tarar`s death in captivity will have come as a great shock for the militants and may have angered Afghan Taliban commanders.

Tarar helped the Taliban rise to power in Afghanistan. He had worked for Inter-Services Intelligence agency and cultivated close ties with the Taliban.

Hayat said militants were asking for more than USD 200,000 to return Tarar`s body. His family had agreed to pay a ransom for his release. But the government refused to free Taliban prisoners in exchange for Tarar`s release - the Taliban`s main demand.

"Now they didn`t get any money and at the same time, Imam`s death may have caused fury from Afghan Taliban commanders like Jalaluddin Haqqani, who had personal relations with Colonel Imam and repeatedly urged the TTP leaders to release him," Yousufzai said.

Tarar was one of four people abducted by militants during a visit to North Waziristan. The other hostages were former ISI official Khalid Khawaja and a British journalist and documentary-maker Asad Qureshi and his driver.

Khawaja was shot dead by the militants and Qureshi was released, allegedly, after paying a ransom. His driver, Rustam Khan, was also freed.

Mullah Omar, the leader of Afghan Taliban, made repeated appeals for the release of Tarar, who trained him and other Afghan Mujahideen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Tarar was Pakistan`s consul general in Afghanistan`s Herat province in the mid-1990s during the Taliban`s rise to power.

IANS