ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A Pakistan Embassy official who was kidnapped in Iraq last month arrived back in Pakistan (search) on Thursday, hugged his mother and children and said he was glad to be alive.
Malik Mohammed Javed (search), 48, received an emotional welcome from his family and Foreign Ministry colleagues after touching down at Islamabad airport. He embraced his elderly mother, his two sons and daughter.
"I am thankful to the God Almighty. I got a new life," he told reporters. "I am also thankful to the people of my country who prayed for my release."
Javed's aged mother Razia Bibi (search) said she was thankful to God who granted her prayers and returned her son home alive.
Militants abducted Javed on April 9 in Baghdad after he left his residence to pray at a mosque. His kidnappers later freed him, and Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said at the time his release was "unconditional."
Javed said his abductors kept him in a room in an unknown location.
"I was blindfolded. They tied my hands and covered my face with a mask," he said.
"When they kidnapped me, I thought that they would kill me the next day. I was extremely worried. But later they spoke with my embassy, and one day I was told that I was going to be freed," Javed said. "That was one of the best days in my life."
Javed said his kidnappers, who told him that they were from a previously unknown Islamic militant group, Omar bin al-Khattab, did not torture him.
"They treated me well," he said, adding that they did not tell him what they wanted.
"I don't know whether they were demanding ransom. I only know that they remained in contact with my embassy in Baghdad."
After receiving Javed, Pakistan's Minister of State for Foreign Affair Khusru told reporters that security had been doubled for Pakistani diplomats and staff working in Baghdad.
Javed, a deputy counselor at the Pakistan Embassy in Baghdad, was the fourth Pakistani to be kidnapped in Iraq. One was released last June but two others were killed a month later.
Pakistan is a key ally of the United States in its war on terror in Afghanistan, but it opposed the U.S.-led attacks in Iraq and refused to send troops.
Officials have given few details about who abducted Javed and how his release came about, but that it was "unconditional" and secured with the help of the Iraqi government and unspecified "friendly countries."