Pakistan will help as a “moral and humanitarian responsibility” in the ongoing efforts to recover a Taliban-held American hostage, Mark Frerichs, a Pakistani embassy spokesperson has said, responding to a media report that expressed fears that United States’ hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan has dimmed hope for his release.
ABC News said that the location of Frerichs, a 58-year-old civil engineer, who was kidnapped in January 2020 from Kabul, is unknown.
“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,” Spokesperson Maliha Shahid said in a statement to ABC News.
ABC News, citing experts, said the U.S. will lose most of whatever leverage it might have to free the hostage through one of the limited number of tracks the government has already contemplated or acted upon during his 17 months of Frerichs’ captivity after American military and special operations personnel leave Afghanistan expected to be by July Fourth.
The report said the options that have been considered for freeing Frerichs include trying to arrange a controversial prisoner exchange involving an Afghan druglord, ask Pakistan to influence the Haqqani network, or staging a high-risk rescue operation if the hostage can be located.
“This assistance has always been extended in good faith, not driven by 'incentives' or 'pressure.'" The emb said PAK has "no evidence to suggest that Mark Frerichs is being held in Pakistan" and PAK "remains committed to play any role it can" to reunite Frerichs w/his family. 2/2
— James Gordon Meek (@meekwire) June 19, 2021
But ABC News said the hostage-rescue option was seen as even less likely than the prisoner exchange.
In her response to ABC News report, Spokesperson Maliha Shahid, who is a press attache at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, said that Pakistan had always extended its assistance in recovering hostages “in good faith, and not driven by ‘incentives’ or ‘pressure.’”
Read more: No peace in sight for Afghanistan?
Ms. Shahid also said that Pakistan has “no evidence to suggest that Mark Frerichs is being held in Pakistan” and that Pakistan “remains committed to play any role it can” to reunite Frerichs with his family.