Kidnappings in Pakistan being controlled from Afghanistan

Criminal networks carry out activities – from delivery of ransom to handover of hostages – from across the border, details of a recent case reveal

Afzal Nadeem Dogar

KARACHI: A number of kidnappings for ransom in Pakistan are being orchestrated by criminal networks based in Afghanistan, Geo News has learnt from police officials and members of several affected families.

Details of a recent kidnapping case from Karachi reveal how these criminal networks carry out most of their activities – from the delivery of ransom to handover of hostages – from across the border, out of the grasp of Pakistani law enforcement authorities.

The release of an 11-year-old boy, abducted from Karachi in 2016, was secured from Afghan city Besh Mandi against Rs10 million. Police officials said this was the first such case in Karachi that came on record and in which the hostage was recovered after payment of ransom in Afghan territory.

Mohammad Sarwar, son of Balochistan-based trader Khair Mohammad Achakzai, was abducted from SITE's Rasheedabad area in Karachi on January 13, 2016.

Sarwar sits with security personnel following his release from captivity.

Khair Mohammad says his son had gone to purchase domestic items from a shop but never returned. The family, after having looked for the child, lodged a case with SITE area police.

The father of the recovered child says that he received a call from an Afghan number in the evening of January 20, 2016. The kidnappers informed the father of his son's presence with them and demanded Rs100 million in ransom.

Later, Khair Mohammad received calls from a Pakistani number in which he was asked to come to Faisalabad and Multan for securing his son's release. He was also asked to come to Mardan for this purpose.

Once, Sarwar's father also received a phone call from Muscat, in which he was pressurised to pay the ransom.

Trader Khair Mohammad with a stash of various bills to be paid in ransom to kidnappers against his son's release.

Khair Mohammad alleges that he kept the police informed about the entire situation, but they did not cooperate.

He says that he continued settling matters with the kidnappers using his family sources.

Khair Mohammad says that he finally reached the Pak-Afghan border near Chaman, Balochistan, along with ransom money on March 3, this year. Sarwar's father also took the investigating officer of the case with the Anti-Violent Crime Cell (AVCC) and a police team along with him. He also informed Levies officials in Chaman about the situation.

The father says that he had reached an agreement with the kidnappers over Rs10 million ransom, while both the payment had to be made and the handover of the hostage had to take place inside the Afghan territory.

Khair Mohammad says he entered into Afghanistan via Chaman border alone, carrying Rs10.5 million in two shopping bags. He said that upon reaching the border city of Besh Mandi in Afghanistan, he purchased an Afghan mobile phone SIM card and informed the kidnappers of his arrival and the place where he was.

Sarwar's father says that after a while, the kidnappers' accomplices arrived on two motorbikes and took the bags filled with money from him and left.

Mohammad Sarwar stands with father, relatives following his release from captivity.

A few moments later, a motorcyclist dropped his son at a distance of 10 yards from him and disappeared.

Khair Mohammad says that he returned to his side of the border having reunited with his son after more than two years, where the AVCC and Levies officials were awaiting them.

Sarwar's father says that he arrived at the Levies offices, where his son was presented before a magistrate after which he was given into protective custody to police. The child was finally handed over to his family after his appearance before a concerned court in Karachi.

Khair Mohammad says that several suspects have been arrested in the case, who are being tried in court. He also says that the suspects have been pressurising him for withdrawing the case.