The recent abduction of a young British boy highlights a growing problem in Pakistan, a country that security experts believe is among the top five most dangerous countries in the world for kidnapping.
In 2009, 480 people were officially recognized as 'kidnapped for ransom' in Pakistan, although such figures can be misleading, said a Telegraph.co.uk report. Often a person will simply be labeled 'kidnapped' if a family member or close friend is involved.
Often the kidnapping is set up in three phases - firstly the stake-out and kidnap itself, followed by handing the victim over a middleman. Then they are transferred to a third party who keep the victim, normally in the tribal region, until a ransom is paid.
Rehman Malik, Pakistan's interior minister, said Pakistan "got a bad name and very bad publicity" froma recent child kidnapping case, but kidnapping is seen as one of the most widespread criminal enterprises in the country.
Punjab is seen as a particularly vulnerable area, the report said. According to security firm red24, kidnappings in the country are carried out by Pakistani militants and separatists, as well as professional criminal groups and on occasion, inexperienced individuals.
"Pakistan is in the top five countries in the world for kidnap for ransom incidents," said Lee Niblett from red24, adding: "The majority of kidnappings for ransom, however, involve criminal gangs who normally target local businessmen.
"Although foreign nationals have been targeted, particularly by Pakistani-Taliban, other Islamist militant groups and Baluch separatists, the majority of victims remain local nationals."