Former Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son who was kidnapped by gunmen three years ago has now been freed.
Ali Haider Gilani was rescued in a joint operation led by Afghan and US security forces, reports from Kabul and Islamabad said.
The 30 year old was in the custody of Al Qaeda when the special forces found him. The US military said its counter terror mission was involved in the operation along with the Afghan forces.
Haider was rescued from the remote Giyan district in Paktika province, which borders Pakistan’s restive tribal lands Afghan president Ashraf Ghani office said. It is not clear whether Haider’s recovery was accidental.
He will be handed over to the Pakistan embassy, reports said. Sources said he is now at the Bagram airbase in northern Afghanistan.
The news of the recovery came as Yousuf Raza Gilani was about to address a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) rally in Bagh in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
“I received news of my son’s recovery when I landed in Kashmir. Instead of going to receive my son, I felt it was my duty to come here first and address the rally,” Gilani was quoted by Express Tribune as saying.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also congratulated Yousuf Raza Gilani over the recovery of his son, the PM’s office said in a statement.
“I am pleased at the news of the safe recovery of your son Ali Haider Gilani. I pray to Allah Almighty he may return home soon. I pay tributes to you and your whole family for spending three years with courage and patience,” Sharif said.
PPP workers celebrated by waving party flags and distributing sweets in Multan.
The rescue comes on the third anniversary of his abduction by unknown gunmen on 9 May 2013. He was addressing a corner meeting in the central province of Multan, when the gun men fired killing his aide and security guard.
The assailants had then dragged the bleeding Haider into a waiting car and sped away. The kidnapping happened when he was running on a PPP ticket to Punjab provincial assembly, from Multan, a Gilani family stronghold.
Haider’s release also resembles the return of slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer’s son Shahbaz Taseer from captivity.
Shahbaz mysteriously walked to freedom last March after being held by various terror groups including the Al qaeda and Pakistan Taliban for five years.
The business man was kidnapped while he was driving to his office in the eastern city of Lahore on 26 August 2011.
The abduction also came months before his father was shot dead by his private guard Mumtaz Qadri. Salman Taseer’s campaign for clemency for a Christian woman accused of blasphemy had enraged Qadri.
Shahbaz was found a few days after his father’s assailant Qadri was executed.