Hundreds of Pakistanis who fought on Taliban's side held captive by Afghan field commanders

Hundreds of Pakistanis who fought on Taliban's side are still held captive by Afghan field commanders, who demand large sums of money for their release, reported The Dawn newspaper, citing an official source in the government.

Islamabad and Kabul repeatedly discussed the problem of captives during Hamid Karzai's visit to Islamabad and President Pervez Musharraf's visit to Kabul as well as on many other occasions. Karzai said he was ready to cooperate but unable to persuade field commanders to release Pakistani captives. According to The Dawn, the only exception was General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who released about 300 Pakistanis.

The president of Afghanistan was forced to acknowledge that regional leaders had demanded ransom for their captives. Normally, however, the relatives of Pakistani captives are unable to pay tens of thousands of dollars for one person, since all "volunteers" that fought on Taliban's side come from poor families.

Islamabad, too, has no intention of paying ransom for its citizens and therefore relies on Kabul's political will. The will is there, but the authorities are still too weak. The army and police are only taking shape; in the provinces, the authorities are made up of ethnic and new regional elite, which has its own armed units.

In the times of Taliban fundamentalists, Pakistan's religious leaders sent their supporters to help out their "Muslim brothers." Now that the Taliban regime has collapsed, hundreds or maybe thousands of mujaheddins have landed in jails.

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