WASHINGTON: Pakistan assured the United States on Sunday that it would continue to assist America and other countries in recovering their hostages from Afghanistan, but only as “a moral duty” and not under coercion or incentives.
The statement, issued by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, follows a report in the US media, urging the Biden administration to “pressurise or offer incentives” to Islamabad to secure the release of an American hostage, Mark Frerichs.
Talking to ABC News, Congressman Mike Waltz, a Florida Republican, said “the Pakistan option is more logical” and the US “absolutely should do it”.
He said he believed “the Pakistanis could get Mark out tomorrow and we could get him home tomorrow”.
Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, also urged the Biden administration to use “all the options” and get Mr Frerichs, one of her constituents, back home.
Media reports claimed that “pressuring Pakistan to act on a hostage case has succeeded in the recent past” and the Biden administration should also try this option to get Mr Frerichs out of Afghanistan. One report recalled a 2017 case, claiming that the Trump White House “initiated secret efforts to cajole Pakistan” to get another hostage, Caitlin Coleman, out after five years.
The Pakistan Embassy, however, rejected the suggestion that Islamabad was forced to get Ms Coleman and her children released. The children were born in captivity.
“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,” embassy’s spokesperson Maliha Shahid said.
“This assistance has always been extended in good faith, and not driven by incentives or pressure.”
Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2021