The Taliban is requesting a prisoner exchange for the captured Pakistani Soldiers, now believed to be ISI or SSG personnel. They were captured in civilian clothes as they left a convoy, and the army has been seeking them since, attacking some camps and bombarding weapons caches.. Story at Dawn:
Militants in the South Waziristan Agency have demanded release of 10 of their colleagues, taken prisoner by security forces, in exchange for 15 paramilitary personnel said to have been kidnapped on Thursday, according to a tribal elder.
The elder, who held talks with the militants to persuade them to release 15 personnel of the Frontier Corps (FC), confided to Dawn that they had handed over to the authorities a list of 10 prisoners who were arrested on charges of militancy. However, he did not disclose the names of the prisoners.
It is learnt that the administration had given three days to the Mehsud tribesmen to recover the kidnapped personnel, failing which they would be fined Rs500,000 per day under the territorial responsibility clause of the Frontier Crimes Regulation.
The paramilitary men had gone missing when they were proceeding from Frontier Region Jandola to Sararogha in a private vehicle in South Waziristan Agency. However, none of the militant groups claimed responsibility for their kidnapping.
The Taliban also executed and beheaded an Afghan in Miranshah NWFP, stating he was a spy, and also took the trouble to chop off his arms and legs. I don’t doubt that the Taliban is infiltrated, but those are more likely closer to home, and closer to their leaders.
Meanwhile President Musharraf is North in Kabul, addressing the close of the Pak-Afghan Grand Jirga:
Musharraf said the world is “forging ahead” while Pakistan and Afghanistan are confronted with a “particularly dark form” of terrorism he said is fostered by foreign influences.
He said the Talibanization of the countries’ border regions has prevented Afghanistan and Pakistan from benefiting from globalization.
“Along with Afghanistan, Pakistan has also witnessed the rise of militancy and violence attacking our society,” Musharraf said. “We cannot remain mired in the past.”
Musharraf, who spoke both in his native Urdu and in English, was speaking at the closing session of a four-day U.S.-backed cross-border jirga, or tribal council, aimed at finding ways to stem Afghanistan’s rising bloodshed.
Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai walked into the tent hosting the jirga to an extended standing ovation. The Pakistani president pulled out of speaking at the opening session because of domestic issues, instead sending Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
At the opening session on Thursday, Karzai spoke passionately of the daily suffering the Afghan people endure as the Taliban attack the government, schools, foreign troops and innocent villagers.
He lamented in particular the kidnapping of 23 South Koreans, including 16 women, saying such actions tarnish Afghanistan’s image. Twenty-one of the hostages are still alive; two males have been killed.
“It doesn’t matter if they kidnap thousands of men, they abducted women!” he said. Referring to other attacks, he said: “They behead women in the name of the Taliban and Muslims in this country. In Helmand, one woman was nailed to a tree. In Zhari, they cut a woman in half. The same thing is happening in provinces near the Pakistan border.”