Safe and sound


John Solecki came back in to the world in the darkness, bound hand and foot, and calling for somebody to help him. Somebody did and he was quickly whisked off into the night to be cared for and recover from what by any standards will have been a dreadful period of captivity. By now he is probably back in his home country and will, it is to be hoped, begin to reassemble his life. Whether he will ever return to his job as director of the UNHCR office in Quetta is a moot point. Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon has thanked President Zardari for his help and support in securing Mr Solecki’s release. There is talk of ‘back channel’ negotiation with his kidnappers but little by way of hard facts; and the story will disappear from the media leaving us none the wiser as to who kidnapped him and what the deal was that finally got him released. The kidnappers claim to have released him on ‘humanitarian grounds’ hardly has the ring of truth about it; there does not appear to have been a mass-release of Baloch women allegedly held by government agencies and who knows if a bag of cash was handed over to some anonymous go-between?

We are thankful that John Solecki has survived. He was lucky; as some high-profile kidnap victims come to a grisly and miserable end. Kidnapping in general terms, usually by criminals and not by persons who claim to be ideologically or politically driven, is on the rise across the nation. As the moral fabric decays ever more quickly and criminality is the career of choice for an increasing number – there being few other options in a country starved of jobs, power, infrastructure and education – humans become increasingly commodified. Kidnapping can be turned into a profitable business. John Solecki was taken because he had a redeemable value – be it cash or kind. The Canadian woman journalist (and Muslim convert) taken at the end of last year is still held, her future as uncertain as Solecki’s was until a few days ago. Her kidnappers make various claims and demands that are impossible either to verify or fulfil. The line between what is a ‘criminal’ kidnapping and what a ‘political’ kidnapping is drawn by people who seek to justify their actions – but it is delusional at best and a barefaced lie at worst. All kidnapping is criminal. We wish Mr Solecki a long, happy and peaceful life. He’s earned it.

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