Although little is known about the details of a recent telephone conversation between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani Minster of Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, it is clear that the dialogue concerned Washington putting pressure on the Pakistanis to ensure the prompt and safe return of aid worker Warren Weinstein. Please see my August 14 posting entitled "Weinstein Was Kidnapped Because He was An American."
COMMENT: Unfortunately, Secretary Clinton has very few bargaining chips she can use, other than suspending, delaying or reducing the level of foreign assistance [money] provided to the Government of Pakistan, which could have HUGE and SEVERE consequences.
Given the negative impact that the assassination of Osama bin Laden and the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis by CIA contractor Ray Davis have had on US-Pakistani relations, the US may simply have to wait until Weinstein's kidnappers are ready to communicate what their demands are, if they have any. It is also possible that Weinstein was kidnapped as retribution against the bin Laden assassination and Davis' shootings of two Pakistanis.
Although the government has begun to circulate a sketch of one of the kidnappers, one will never know whether it is in fact an accurate depiction of one of the kidnappers or simply a ploy to confuse investigators.
One pressing problem for Weinstein is that according to his family he needs daily medications connected to heart health. My experience has been, at least in cases where kidnappers want to keep the kidnap victim healthy, that the kidnappers will obtain critical medication. On the other hand, inasmuch as there has been no information released from the kidnappers' as to whether or not Weinstein is still alive, it is also possible that the worse might have befallen the American.
Some observers might conclude that if the kidnappers wanted to kill Weinstein, why not do it at his home? If we recall the beheading of WALL STREET JOURNAL correspondent Daniel Pearl in 2002, Pearl was first kidnapped, and then killed. Like Weinstein, Pearl was also Jewish.
On the other hand, we should remain positive and realize that John Solecki, 49, head of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Baluchistan province, was kidnapped in February 2009 and released in April of that year. We will never know whether any concessions were made for his release.