Militants had abducted son of slain Punjab governor in 2011.
The kidnapped son of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer was safely recovered on Tuesday evening from Kulchuk, Balochistan, through a law enforcement operation.
Shahbaz Taseer, kidnapped from Lahore on Aug. 26, 2011, is in “feeble” health, said Aitzaz Goraya, head of Balochistan’s counterterrorism department.
The Pakistani Taliban have never officially confirmed their involvement in the kidnapping, but a militant source said Tuesday that an Army operation in the tribal areas had made it “difficult” for the group to hold him.
Militant commanders have privately told AFP in the past that Taseer was being kept somewhere in the tribal areas of North and South Waziristan. The most recent source said he was moved after Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched in North Waziristan in 2014.
“Acting on a tipoff, intelligence forces and police went to a compound in the Kuchlak district some 25 kilometers north of Quetta,” Goraya said. “We surrounded the compound and we raided it. We found him and he said, ‘My name is Shahbaz and my father’s name is Salmaan Taseer.’”
Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, spokesman for the Balochistan government, told the private Channel 92: “I can confirm that Shahbaz Taseer has been safely recovered. He is in safe hands.”
Shahbaz Taseer’s father-in-law, Salman Ghani, also confirmed his freedom to AFP.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who was addressing the Senate at the time news broke of Shahbaz’s release, also confirmed the news. “Shahbaz Taseer has been shifted to Quetta, where he will undergo a physical,” he told legislators. “I will share the details of the whole operation as soon as I obtain them from the departments concerned.”
A senior intelligence official claimed that the militant group Shahbaz escaped from was not the one that had originally abducted him. “He was sold by the abductors to another militant group and kept changing hands, which made it difficult to trace him,” he said on condition of anonymity.
Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, whose own son was also kidnapped by suspected Taliban militants in May 2013, told Geo News: “It is a very big day for Salmaan’s family. After this release, I am very hopeful that my own son will be freed.”