February 26, 2016 / 10:57 AM / 3 years ago

Pakistani police free Afghan ex-governor kidnapped in Islamabad

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A former Afghan provincial governor who was kidnapped in Islamabad this month was freed from his captors by Pakistani police on Friday, officials said.

Fazlullah Wahidi, the ex-governor of Afghanistan’s western Heart province, was abducted on Feb. 12 from a busy market in the Pakistani capital.

“We recovered the former Afghan governor Fazlullah Wahidi from his kidnappers and arrested three kidnappers,” said Javed Iqbal Wazir, police chief of the northwestern Swabi district from where Wahidi was rescued.

“The former governor was in good health and has been shifted to the Afghan consulate in Peshawar.”

Wazir said the three arrested people were in custody and being investigated at a secret location. The motive for the kidnapping was still not clear, he said.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who Afghan media say is close to Wahidi, issued a statement after the kidnapping, saying the former governor traveled to Pakistan to apply for a visa to the United Kingdom. The UK does not issue visas to Afghans in Kabul.

By Friday afternoon, Wahidi had been moved to the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad and was preparing to return home, said Abdul Nasir Yousofi, the embassy’s political counselor.

“He is safe and he is with us now,” Yousofi said.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have been seeking to mend relations in recent months in part to foster peace talks with the Taliban to end Afghanistan’s nearly 15-year-old war.

However, mistrust on both sides is deeply ingrained, with each accusing the other of failing to crack down on Islamist militants finding safe haven in lawless border areas.

Reporting Jibran Ahmed and Kay Johnson.; Writing by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Richard Borsuk

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