By Augustine Anthony
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) –
Ambassador Tariq Azizuddin is seen in this undated handout photograph released by the Pakistani embassy in Kabul on February 12, 2008. Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan who went missing in February appeared in a video on Al Arabiya television on Saturday saying that he is being held by Taliban militants and urged his government to meet their demands.(Pakistan Embassy Handout/Reuters)
Ambassador Tariq Azizuddin appeared in a video tape ontelevision surrounded by armed militants to make his first public statement since going missing.
“We were kidnapped by mujahideen from the Taliban,” the ambassador, wearing an open-necked shirt and looking calm, said in the remarks which were translated from Urdu into Arabic.
“I suffer health problems such as high blood pressure and heart pains,” said the bespectacled and grey-bearded ambassador, who gestured to his armed captors in an arid, hilly region.
Scores of people have been kidnapped in the dangerous border region betweenand Pakistan and the ambassador’s disappearance highlighted instability in nuclear-armed Pakistan — a major ally in the U.S.-led crackdown on militants.
The Pakistani government had not publicly confirmed he had been kidnapped but a senior government official said on Saturday Azizuddin was being held by militants who were demanding the release of their arrested colleagues.