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Ransom paid for workers’ release

September 16, 2013
— File photo
— File photo

PESHAWAR: The government has paid a heavy ransom to militants to secure release of seven of eight Wapda employees working for Gomal Zam dam project, according to sources privy to the development.

They told Dawn that Rs25 million had been paid to the ‘commander Latif’ group -- an offshoot of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) -- which handed over the seven employees to officials of the political administration in a village located on the border of North and South Waziristan agencies on Saturday. But the fate of the eighth kidnapped employee is not known.

Fifty per cent of the ransom was arranged by the Governor’s House and the remaining amount by Wapda, the sources said. But the government has created an impression that the militants had released the workers as a ‘goodwill gesture’.

“This is absolutely untrue that the kidnapped employees were released by the Taliban as a goodwill gesture,” an official source insisted.

Initially, the government was not interested in trying to secure the release of the employees, kidnapped in August last year, which forced their families to approach the Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court, Justice Dost Muhammad Khan The chief justice took up the matter and directed the officials concerned to approach philanthropists and raise the money required for the release of the employees after the political administration and other departments said they were unable to ensure their release.

The bench was informed by court officials that the militants were demanding Rs150m. The officials later claimed that negotiations had been stopped after the death of TPP deputy commander Maulvi Waliur Rehman in a US drone attack.—Bureau Report