Pakistan to help recover US hostage held by Afghan Taliban

Islamabad ‘remains committed’ to reunite Mark Frerichs with his family, says embassy spokesperson Maliha Shahid


APP June 20, 2021
U.S. Navy veteran Mark Frerichs is seen in this undated photo provided by his family. PHOTO: ABC NEWS

WASHINGTON:

Islamabad will make all-out efforts to recover American citizen, Mark Frerichs, who has been held hostage by Afghan Taliban since last year as a “moral and humanitarian responsibility”, Pakistan embassy spokesperson said on Sunday.

ABC News in its report expressed fears that United States’ hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan has dimmed hope for Frerichs’s release.

The US-based media outlet said in its report the location of Frerichs, a 58-year-old civil engineer, who was kidnapped in January 2020 from Kabul, is unknown.

“Pakistan has always regarded any assistance it can provide in helping the United States and other foreign countries with the recovery of their hostages from Afghanistan as a moral and humanitarian responsibility,” Spokesperson Maliha Shahid said in a statement to ABC News.

The news outlet, citing experts, said the US will lose most of whatever leverage it might have to free the hostage through one of the limited number of tracks the government has already contemplated or acted upon during his 17 months of captivity after American military and special operations personnel withdraw from Afghanistan.

Also read: Taliban say committed to Afghan peace talks, want 'genuine Islamic system'

The report said the options that have been considered for freeing Frerichs include trying to arrange a controversial prisoner exchange involving an Afghan druglord, encouraging Pakistan to influence the Haqqani network, or staging a high-risk rescue operation if the hostage can be located.

But ABC News said the hostage-rescue option was seen as even less likely than the prisoner exchange.

In her response to ABC News report, Spokesperson Maliha, who is a press attaché at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, said that Pakistan had always extended its assistance in recovering hostages “in good faith, and not driven by ‘incentives’ or ‘pressure’”.

Maliha also said that Islamabad has “no evidence to suggest that Mark Frerichs is being held in Pakistan” and that Pakistan “remains committed to play any role it can” to reunite Frerichs with his family.

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