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Bring Warren Home

by Elaine Weinstein
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A still from the December 2013 video. SITE Intelligence Group/AFP

A still from the December 2013 video. SITE Intelligence Group/AFP

The third grim anniversary of Warren Weinstein’s abduction from Lahore.

My husband, Warren, is a true humanitarian.

He has devoted more than 40 years of his life to helping people around the world, including in Africa and South Asia. Warren came to Pakistan a decade ago to serve as an economic-development advisor. He lived in Pakistan full time, and immersed himself in the culture. He learned Urdu, dressed in shalwar kameez, and took every opportunity to learn more about Pakistan’s history and customs.

Working in Pakistan, Warren developed a special connection with the country and a deep and profound respect for its people and culture. He also saw just how significantly his work—to help the Pakistani people strengthen their industries, like dairy, agriculture, furniture—helped local communities become more prosperous and economically self-sufficient.

He developed many close friendships in Lahore, where he lived, and throughout the country. When he visited us at home in the United States, he spoke highly of Pakistan and urged friends and family to visit him there so they could see and experience the country’s warmth and beauty firsthand.

As a guest in Pakistan, Warren especially respected the culture’s focus on hospitality and the welcoming of strangers embodied in unwritten codes such as the concept of Pashtunwali. This welcoming atmosphere, and the protection it promised, gave my husband a great sense of peace and safety, and he made every effort to reciprocate it.

On Aug. 13, 2011, just four days before he was scheduled to return home to the U.S. and to his family, Warren was kidnapped from his residence in Lahore. Our struggle is one that many Pakistani families, having seen their own loved ones kidnapped, know, unfortunately, all too well. We hope that all families in our situation will have their loved ones returned safely.

In a few days, we will mark the three-year anniversary of Warren’s kidnapping. During this time, we have not been able to speak to him. We have not been able to tell him we love him. We have only been able to see him, hear his voice, and know that he is still alive by watching the videos released by his captors. The last video they issued of Warren was in December. We have not heard or seen anything from Warren since then. We feel more anxious and concerned than ever for his safety and wellbeing.

When Warren left us for Pakistan 10 years ago, he was already an old man, and he is even older now. He turned 73 in July. He has always been there to take care of us as the head of our family. We love him very much and now wish to take care of him.

Warren is in poor health. He has a heart condition and severe asthma. The Pakistani people treated my husband with such great hospitality while he worked and lived as a guest in their country. It is my sincere hope that he will continue to be treated as a guest by his captors until his release. His health issues require treatment and medication and, if he is not afforded the traditional Pakistani hospitality that he has come to love and respect, I fear that we will lose him.

To the people of Pakistan, I know that the kidnappers who took Warren from his home and are holding him away from his family and those he so dearly loves do not represent you. As the third anniversary of his abduction nears, I hope the customs of hospitality, protection, respect and honor that you afforded Warren—and that he did his utmost to return in kind—will continue to be granted to him.

My husband has spent his life helping others and devoted all he had to making Pakistan a better place for its people. He does not deserve to be held as a bargaining chip. My family and I have created a website, bringwarrenhome.com to help people understand who Warren is and how critical it is to bring him home. We hope that those who have the ability to do so will help Warren and will do all in their power to grant us our deepest wish—to have Warren home safely with us again at last.

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