Ali Haider Gilani Rescued After 3 Years: Former Pakistan-PM’s Son Recovered From Taliban Captivity

A successful operation by joint U.S. and Afghan forces saw Ali Haider Gilani rescued after three years: the former-Pakistan prime minister’s son was recovered from Taliban captivity yesterday. Ali Haider, the son of ex-PM Yusuf Raza Gilani, was kidnapped by Taliban militants three years ago from his hometown of Multan, in central Pakistan, while campaigning at an election rally. Gilani was rescued yesterday and flown from Kabul to Lahore today after being held hostage by a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda since his abduction on May 9, 2013, and security officials report that he is in good health.

Ali Haider Gilani has been reunited with his family, who have extended their thanks to the American and Afghan forces by whom he was rescued after three years and anyone else who hoped and prayed for his safe return. The Pakistani Foreign Office issued a statement to announce that Gilani had been rescued.

“Ali Haider Gilani has been recovered today in a joint operation carried out by the Afghan and US security forces in Ghazni, Afghanistan.”

According to the Press Trust of India, the ex-Pakistani PM’s son had been campaigning in the elections for the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) when he was kidnapped by Taliban militants.

“Haider, believed to be in his 30s, was kidnapped by gunmen in Multan just two days before the May 11, 2013, general elections which he was contesting,” reports the PTI.

Ali Haider Gilani rescued after 3 years Former Pakistan-PMs son recovered from Taliban captivity son
Ali Haider Gilani's son, Jamal Uddin, celebrates that his father has been rescued from Taliban captivity. (Photo by K.M. Chaudary/AP)

While there was no claim of responsibility at the time of Gilani’s abduction three years ago, suspicions immediately fell on the Taliban. Suspicions of Ali Haider’s kidnapping being the result of terrorist operations were confirmed when, according to the PTI, Gilani’s captors contacted his father and family for ransom money in order to have him rescued or released.

“Gilani, who served as premier from 2008 to 2012, had said last year that the abductors had contacted him and demanded ransom for his son’s release. In a video message last year, Haider said the kidnappers were initially demanding Rs 2 billion for his release but later reduced the ransom amount to Rs 500 million while his father had said he was ready to pay the ransom amount,” said their report.

Ali Haider’s elder brother, Abdul Qadir Gilani, recently rejected reports that Haider was released because a ransom was paid, electing instead to express his sheer gratitude.

“I am very happy and I have no words to express my joy,” Gilani’s brother told local reporters about Ali Haider being rescued.

The Scotsman also reports that the Taliban militants who held the Pakistani hostage – before joint U.S. and Afghan forces had Ali Haider Gilani rescued after three years — had made further contact with his ex-PM father, Yusuf Raza Gilani.

“[Gilani’s] kidnappers demanded the release of several al-Qaeda prisoners in exchange for his son. He also said the captors had let his son talk to him by phone for eight minutes, and that he was being held somewhere in Afghanistan,” said The Scotsman.

According to PTI, Pakistan’s Foreign Office’s statement made following news that Ali Haider Gilani was rescued after three years, and that the former Pakistan-PM’s son was recovered from Taliban captivity — expressed that the efforts of the Afghan National Army and U.S. NATO forces were “deeply appreciated” and set goals for the future.

“Pakistan hopes that the three nations can work together to decrease and eliminate terrorism from the region. Terrorists cannot be allowed to hold governments hostage.”

The operation that saw Ali Haider Hilani rescued after three years — the former Pakistan-PM’s son recovered from Taliban captivity — is one of the most successful instances of rescue in a high-profile kidnapping case, rivaled only by the mission that saw Shahbaz, the son of assassinated Punjab governor, Salman Taseer, rescued after five years in the clutches of terrorists.

[Photo by Anjum Naveed/AP]