Shahbaz Taseer, the son of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, was rescued during an army-led operation in Quetta on Tuesday, almost five years after he was kidnapped from Lahore.
Anwar-ul Haq, the official spokesman of the Balochistan government, told reporters that Shahbaz was “fit and fine” and would spend the evening with his family.
Shahbaz was kidnapped by members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who had demanded a ransom worth millions of dollars for his return. There were also speculations that the TTP had demanded a prisoner exchange between Shahbaz and Mumtaz Qadri, who was executed in Rawalpindi last week for assassinating Salmaan in 2011. It is not clear whether he was in TTP custody at the time of his release.
Fazlullah Kakar, an official of the Balochistan government, said Shahbaz, who was abducted from the Gulberg area of Lahore on August 26, 2011, was recovered from Kuchlak, located on the outskirts of Quetta city, the capital of Balochistan province.
He was held captive in a run-down house located behind a popular hotel in the area. As the rescuers moved in, his captors fled the scene and disappeared into an illegal settlement in the area. “We are now conducting an operation to find them out,” said Kakar.
Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar also confirmed the recovery during a Senate session, praising the law enforcement agencies for rescuing Shahbaz.
Quetta is considered to be a stronghold of the Afghan Taliban and it is believed that many members of their leadership live in the city or have their family there.
“We were made to believe that Shahbaz was being kept in Afghanistan,” said security analyst Ehsan ullah, who added that “Quetta now seems to be the centre for many terror groups.”
There are some, however, who insist that Shahbaz was released only after a ransom was paid. “The fact that the captors were not recovered suggests that this was done after payment of a ransom,” said journalist Mujeebur Rehman Shami.
Meanwhile, the youngest son of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Ali Haider Gilani still awaits release. He was kidnapped during an election campaign rally on May 9, 2013.