Former Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son, Ali Haider Gilani, on Tuesday broke his silence about his three years in captivity with Al Qaeda.
Gilani who was running for a provincial assembly seat from Multan was abducted in May 2013 and could only be recovered in May this year through a joint operation carried out by Afghan and US forces from an Al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan’s Paktika province. Gilani said the abductors told him: “Operations were conducted against Osama bin Laden in Abottabad and Swat and Waziristan during your father’s term. You are our enemy.”
He revealed that although he had not received any threats prior to his abduction, he was told that he was being “followed” and during his time in captivity, an important member of the militant group who went by the name of Zia stayed with him, reports the Dawn.
Recalling the moments of his abduction, Gilani said he was leaving a rally with supporters and two security guards when someone took him by the neck and pushed him hard, landing him on the ground. He then heard shots being fired and saw his two guards dropping near him. He was then hit on the head with a gun and he started to bleed.
“I then thought they had come to kill me,” he said. The abductors then shoved him inside a car and stripped him fearing he could be wearing some spy device on his body. “Their first question to me was, are you Sunni or Shia,” said Gilani, adding that the abductors, “who were all speaking in Punjabi” told him to keep mum.
Gilani said he was first taken from Multan to Khanewal, and then to Faisalabad and Waziristan, and added that the car they were travelling in was covered with election posters and flags. The abductors introduced themselves as Al Qaeda men and told Gilani he had been abducted because he is “the son of Yousuf Raza Gilani” Gilani said they were not stopped for checking during the travel from Multan to Faisalabad, where he said he was kept chained for two and a half months.
“They told me they were taking me to Waziristan for two months, where I would be released since they had struck a deal with my family. Perhaps they wanted to ensure that I don’t resist during the journey,” said Gilani.
His family is one of the most powerful in the central town of Multan and a key clan in the PPP, whose campaign for re-election had been dramatically curtailed by Tehrik-i-Taliban threats at the time.
Gilani’s interview comes after Advocate Awais Ali Shah, the son of the Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court (SHC), Sajjad Ali Shah, went missing from outside a super store on June 21. Police has registered a case against “unknown suspects” for kidnapping Shah but the motive of the kidnapping remains unclear as no ransom calls have been received. Police suspects that Awais, may be used as a ‘bargaining chip’ to ensure release of some captured militants.