Saturday 10 December 2016

US-Afghan raid rescues son of former Pakistan PM

Published 10/05/2016 | 12:16

People embrace Musa Gilani, right, the brother of Ali Haider Gilani who was kidnapped (AP)
People embrace Musa Gilani, right, the brother of Ali Haider Gilani who was kidnapped (AP)

A joint raid by US and Afghan forces has rescued the son of a former Pakistani prime minister from a three-year-long Taliban captivity in Afghanistan, Pakistan's foreign ministry said.

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The Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar told Pakistan's foreign affairs adviser, Sartaj Aziz, in a telephone call that Ali Hiader Gilani was found during the raid in Ghazni province and that arrangements were being made for his transfer to Pakistan, according to the statement from the Pakistani Foreign Office.

Mr Gilani, believed to be in his 30s, is the son of Pakistan's former PM Yusuf Raza Gilani - whose secular anti-Taliban Pakistan People's Party's led several major offensives against Islamic militants.

The elder Gilani, who served as prime minister from 2008 to 2012, said last year that the kidnappers demanded the release of several al Qaida prisoners in exchange for his son.

He also said that the captors had let his son talk to him by phone for eight minutes, and that he was being held somewhere in Afghanistan.

Gunmen kidnapped the younger Gilani in May 2013, several days before the general elections in his central Pakistani hometown of Multan.

There was no immediate comment from US or Afghan officials.

Abdul Qadi Gilani, a brother of the younger Gilani, praised Afghan authorities and Pakistan's army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif for his brother's successful recovery.

He said the army chief also called their father about the rescue. A jubilant elder Gulani was seen on Pakistani TV attending an election rally after hearing the news.

"This is a very good day for me," the father said as his other son, Abdul Qadir, told reporters in Multan that his brother will arrive from Afghanistan to Islamabad later on Tuesday.

"I am very happy and I have no words to express my joy," Abdul Qadir said.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued a statement expressing pleasure over the rescue while the current leader of the People's Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, announced on Twitter the Afghan ambassador in Islamabad first called the elder Gilani to tell him about his son.

The Pakistani Taliban have fought the state for over a decade, killing tens of thousands of people in a bid to install their own harsh Islamic system.

Press Association

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