It is a fact that kidnappings in Pakistan have been on the rise since last year, actually beginning with the abduction of US aid worker Warren Weinstein, 70, who was seized by a handful of gunmen at his home in Lahore in August 2011, and hustled him away. Since then, it is unknown what is condition is or who might be holding him, although there are suspicions.
Since then, four other foreign aid workers have been kidnapped. In all five cases, no arrests have been made by Pakistani police. I leave our readers to draw their own conclusions from this lack of police and intelligence service effectiveness.
Yesterday (February 29) a vehicle occupied by several local employees of Karachi's Good Samaritan Hospital was stopped by four gunmen at which point one of the assailants asked whether any of them were [South] Korean nationals. The occupants of the vehicle, all of whom worked for Good Samaritan replied that none of them were South Korean.
Nevertheless, two of the hospital's employees, one a data entry specialist and the other an administrative specialist were abducted by the gunmen and quickly fled the area.
COMMENT: Although the driver of the hospital vehicle was able to escape early in the encounter, the gunmen proceeded to abduction the three remaining hospital employees who were in the car, only to discover that their vehicle could not accommodate the three would-be hostages.
At that point, one of the gunmen ordered another to shoot the hostage who could fit into the car, but fortunately, the employee escaped before he could be shot.
It should be noted that Good Samaritan Hospital has treated Pakistanis exclusively for more than ten years by a South Korean charity group, all of whom are Christians.
It seems clear from the comment made by one of the gunmen who stopped the hospital vehicle that they preferred to abduct foreigners. Nevertheless, two local hostages were seized, so it will be interesting to determine whether these hostages will be released relatively quickly or held indefinitely, in the case of a number of foreign kidnap victims.
One should not interpret the emphasis on foreign kidnap targets as being a primary target of the Taliban and other extremist groups, because in recent years terror groups have attacked police stations, military posts and government facilities with the intent of killing as many Pakistanis as possible.
One lesson we have learned from an analysis of most attacks of late, particularly where Pakistanis have been killed, is that any Pakistani who works for a foreign embassy, the UN a multitude of NGOs or helps foreigners in any way could be target, as in the case of a Chinese academic a few days ago in Peshawar where both were shot and killed by a pedestrian.
It is expected that the kidnappings of foreigners will continue.
Consequently, it is essential that all possible targets, foreigners and Pakistanis alike who work for them, exercise consistent surveillance detection skills and reduce their security vulnerabilities by predictably being unpredictable.