Shahbaz Taseer, the son of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer who was killed in January for opposing Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws, was abducted in broad daylight on Friday by four gunmen near his office.
The armed men, who were travelling in a four-wheeler, intercepted and ambushed Shahbaz’s car in Gulberg area when he was heading to his office with his friend, senior superintendent of police (investigation) Abdur Razzaq Cheema said. “After intercepting Shahbaz’s car, the men beat his friend and took Shahbaz away in their four-wheeler,” he said.
Eyewitnesses said the kidnappers blocked the road from both sides, pulled Shahbaz out of his car and threatened to shoot him if he resisted.
Shahbaz’s friend immediately informed the police on emergency number about the incident, Cheema said, before adding that they had recovered two laptops and a mobile phone belonging to Shahbaz.
He added that the police have no leads into the kidnapping so far. “We have not received any ransom note and are looking for clues,” said Cheema. He said that the kidnapping seemed to be an insider’s job because the militants had a well-planned modus operandi.
Surprisingly, though the Punjab government had provided security to Salmaan Taseer’s family after his assassination, no police guard was accompanying Shahbaz — who is in his twenties — at the time the incident took place.
When Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called up Cheema to demand an explanation, the police chief said the guards had been taken into custody, police officers later said.
Punjab province’s law minister Rana Sanaullah claimed that religious extremists were involved in Shahbaz’s abduction. Sanaullah said that groups such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan were operating out of the country’s tribal areas from where they planned and executed robberies and kidnappings to raise money for their militant activities.
However, the police believe the kidnapping may be a result of a business dispute. The business empire that the slain governor left his sons includes interests in real estate and construction, media and telecommunications.
With inputs from PTI