News / Asia

3 Years Later, American Aid Worker Still Captive in Pakistan

FILE - Warren Weinstein is seen in this still from a video released anonymously to reporters in Pakistan, Dec. 26, 2013.
FILE - Warren Weinstein is seen in this still from a video released anonymously to reporters in Pakistan, Dec. 26, 2013.
Kokab Farshori

Three years ago today Warren Weinstein, an American aid worker, was kidnapped by unknown armed men in the Pakistani city of Lahore. 

A resident of Rockville, Maryland, Weinstein was a business development expert working in Pakistan on a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development.  He had been in Pakistan for close to seven years when the gunmen stormed his residence and took him away.

“I really don’t know why they are holding him.  He was in Pakistan doing development work.  He is just an old man, a sick man who was dedicated to doing his job in Pakistan and kept staying there for the benefit of the Pakistani people,” Elaine Weinstein, the wife of Warren Weinstein told VOA’s Deewa Service.

No group has claimed the responsibility of the kidnapping, but some experts say Pakistani Taliban or its affiliated groups may be behind the kidnapping.  These groups oppose the U.S. policy of conducting drone strikes inside Pakistan, targeting militants that allegedly attack targets in the neighboring Afghanistan.

Elaine Weinstein told VOA that her husband was in no position to make the U.S. change its policy.

“I think that there are some unresolved issues that [Weinstein’s captors] have and perhaps they think that by taking him, some of these issues can be resolved.  He has no power to help them,” she said.   

It's believed that Weinstein is being held in a mountainous region near the Afghan border where the Pakistani military is fighting extremists. His captors released four videos of him, most recently last Christmas.

“His captors have released some videos.  The last one they released was in December of 2013.  It is terrible to see him and not be able to talk to him.  Not be able to tell him how we feel and ask him how he is doing,” Elaine Weinstein said, adding that her husband’s captors have not contacted the family with any demands. 

Weinstein has a heart condition that requires medication, along with high blood pressure and asthma. His family is worried that his health could fail or that he could be mistakenly killed by Pakistani forces.

Elaine Weinstein said both the U.S. and Pakistani governments assured her that they are doing their best to secure her husband’s release.

“We have engaged several members of the Pakistani government and they tell us that they are trying to do everything in their power to get my husband released. And we have the same engagement with the United States government and they tell us that they are doing in their power to get him released,” she said.

But she urged both governments to redouble their efforts to get her husband back home safely.  She also urged her captors to release him for the sake of humanity.

“He is a grandfather.  I know Pakistanis respect their elders.  Please have respect for my husband and send him home to his family where he belongs.   And in case my husband gets to see this video, I want him to remember that we love him.  We miss him terribly and we are trying everything in our power to get him home,” she said.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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