From Chitral to Nuristan in Afghanistan is a tough journey, especially in the harsh winters of December. But Shireen Bibi, 60, travelled all the way, walking on foot in places where the forest was thick, to find her missing son.
Shireen’s son was kidnapped on August 27 last year when nearly 300 militants crossed over from Afghanistan to Pakistan and attacked seven security checkpoints along the Durand Line. The brazen cross-border incursion killed more than 30 personnel of the Chitral Scouts, part of the paramilitary Frontier Corps.
Two soldiers, Tariq Jalal and Faqir Hussain, were kidnapped in the attack. Hussain’s beheaded body was found in December in the Darshot forest of Chitral.
It was then that Shireen decided that she would travel to Afghanistan and negotiate with the Taliban for her son Tariq’s release since all attempts to negotiate through an intermediary had failed.
Shireen, a widow and mother of six, said that initially the family tried to muster support from the government, but they were not given any assistance. “My eldest son accompanied me to Nuristan and it took me four days to reach there,” she told The Express Tribune over telephone from Chitral.
“It was raining very heavily when they brought my son to me, but seeing Tariq after months of uncertainty was like an overdue blessing.”
However, despite months of waiting, she could not bring Tariq home. “The militants are demanding Rs6 million for his release,” she said, adding that she has been trying to raise the money on her own.
It’s been a long eight months struggle and now time is running out. We cannot take this any longer and are asking everyone to help us in Tariq’s release, she said.
At a press conference on Monday, Shireen appealed to philanthropists to help her pay the ransom.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2012.
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