Ransom for hostages

IT’S time to heave a sigh of relief, that the month-and-a-half-old crisis involving South Korean hostages in Afghanistan has been resolved with minimum loss of lives; but not quite. For, worse situations await us as a natural corollary of what is claimed, or perceived, to have been done now; namely, the paying of a hefty amount as ransom.

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Published: Mon 3 Sep 2007, 8:36 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:03 AM

Whether or not it is of the order of $20 million, it is certain that big money has changed hands; this, despite the denial from Seoul that it did pay a ransom. No one, in fact, expects of South Korea to openly admit to have made such payments. The point of worry however is more as to how this money is proposed to be used by the recipient, namely Taleban. As its commander has announced minutes after the freeing of the 19 hostages, it has additional wherewithal now to organise more kidnappings and suicide bombings. Each penny could turn into pellets, or material for bombs, resulting in more deaths and devastation. Instead of losing the 19 lives of the missionaries, we might end up losing the lives of hundreds of ordinary civilians in pre-meditated blasts, inside, or even outside, Afghanistan. In other words, terror has got another shot in the arm.

In the first place, there was no plausible reason why the South Korean missionaries should have found their way into Afghanistan, considering the volatile situation that existed there. If theirs was a religious mission, to spread the faith as is talked about, it was in no way the opportune time. If reaching aid was the motto, South Korea had better ways to do so. Be that as it may, paying a ransom and getting out of a tricky situation would have been the end of the matter, had it not been for the startling proclamation as to how this money is going to be used. Courting terrorists cannot by any means be seen as being part of the War on Terror that President Bush is claiming to be spearheading in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Yet, why an American ally has chosen to do this? Without doubt, this is going to encourage more such kidnappings, leading to payments of ransoms, and subsequent diversion of such money to fan terror.

Coming to the issue of the War on Terror, it is pertinent to assess what has gone wrong with the slogan and the endeavour thereof. Afghanistan continues to be the breeding ground for international terror, as the over six years of Bush’s directionless overdrive made little difference to the scenario, other than that the situation has got aggravated elsewhere, like Iraq, too. In fact, terrorists had never had it so good, as has now been the case. The paying of ransom by South Koreans has only added fresh punch to this grim scenario.

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