PESHAWAR - After the escape of more than 380 prisoners from the Bannu Central Jail recently, the Taliban have made changes in their demands for releasing hostages abducted from various parts of Pakistan, especially Lahore and Peshawar. Highly-placed sources told Pakistan Today that in return for former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s son Shahbaz Taseer, the Taliban have demanded the release of five of their men. Earlier, the Taliban had demanded the release of 20 people, which was later cut down to 10, imprisoned in various parts of the country.
The sources said the five people being demanded by the militants in return for Shahbaz Taseer included three al Qaeda terrorists. The al Qaeda high command assured Taliban militants of a huge amount of Rs 100 million in case of success. The names of al Qaeda fugitives are yet to be ascertained, but the government has refused to release the demanded men. Similarly, the Taliban have also revised their demand in return for Prof Ajmal Khan, vice chancellor of Islamia College University, who was abducted in September 2010. Earlier, besides a huge amount of ransom, the Taliban had also insisted on the release of 21 militants imprisoned in various jails. Although the authorities concerned are tight-lipped, it was reported that a number of people demanded by the Taliban in return for Prof Ajmal Khan included those who escaped from Bannu Jail. On such grounds, the Taliban are only insisting on payment of ransom. Recently, a Swiss couple abducted from Zhob in Balochistan in July 2011 got freedom after a massive payment of $10 million. Ransom has become a major source of revenue for militants both in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan Today