PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Taliban militants yesterday released Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan, three months after he was seized in a tribal area near the Afghan border.
The release of Tariq Azizuddin was the latest sign of a growing rapprochement between the government and militants in the tribal areas. In recent days, the two sides have swapped prisoners, and Pakistan's military has been thinning its troops near the border.
The Bush administration and NATO have expressed concern at the prospect of an accord between the new government and the militants, saying such a truce could lead to an upsurge in attacks against Western troops in Afghanistan. In the past, militants have used peace accords to regroup and rearm.
The diplomat, whose release was confirmed by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, was reported to be in good health. The ministry gave no further details.
Azizuddin, 56, had disappeared Feb. 11 as he traveled from the frontier city of Peshawar toward the Afghan border. It was believed that his abductors were a criminal gang operating in the Khyber tribal area, which is rife with drug smuggling and arms-running.
At some point, Azizuddin apparently was handed over to Taliban-allied militants, according to Pakistani officials familiar with the case.