What is being done to find missing Czech citizens abroad?

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The past few months have seen the disappearance of three Czech citizens in foreign countries. What can the Czech government do in order to protect its citizens abroad and find them if they should disappear? Ever more Czechs are asking themselves that question, as the most recent case, that of a missing 28 year-old woman begins to look hopeless. Dita Asiedu reports:

Jana Kubistova was last seen on a hiking trip in the Ecuadorian mountains more than a month ago. The Czech government has both its honorary Consulate in Ecuador and its embassy in Columbia pressing local authorities to step up their search. In April this year, 24-year-old Petr Polasek along with his 22-year-old girlfriend, Gabriela Gubicova, went to Northern Pakistan on holiday. Petr Polasek disappeared, his girlfriend was found murdered. Friends and family of the two, who are still believed to be alive, remain hopeful that they will be found, but believe that they are not receiving the necessary help from the Czech authorities to find their loved ones.

Are the Czech authorities really doing all they can to locate the whereabouts of both Jana and Petr? Skeptics believe that the government only pulls all the stops for important persons. The example that springs to everyone's mind is the imprisonment of Czech MP, Jan Pilip and former student leader Jan Bubenik in Cuba. In this case, the country's most influential politicians came to their aid.

According to the Czech ambassador in Pakistan, Petr Pribik, however, the Czech government currently has its hands tied. Both President Vaclav Havel and Prime Minister Milos Zeman have sent letters to the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf in which they have asked for help in finding the missing persons. A reply is expected within the next few days. Mr. Pribik has also asked Pakistan's Justice Minister for help and was promised to be informed of all steps taken in the investigation. But, critics say, the Czech Republic is taking a passive role in the search, as it is afraid to upset the Pakistani government and its military regime.

Although Radio Prague has repeatedly asked the Foreign Ministry for a statement on the current state of affairs, no statement has yet been provided.