LAHORE: Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that he has been in contact with the kidnappers of his son Ali Haider over the past year but they have never demanded ransom because they are interested only in securing release of some prisoners.
“They want release of certain prisoners from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi and, according to my information, a few of them have been recently freed by the government. But it has failed to secure the release of my son, or of Shahbaz Taseer, the son of slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer, and other innocent captives in return,” Mr Gilani said while talking to Dawn here on Sunday.
Criticising Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for sharing a video of his son with the media, Mr Gilani said: “It is regrettable that the minister shared the video with the media without bringing it to my knowledge. I did not expect such an irresponsible behaviour from Chaudhry Nisar who is a friend. After receiving the video, he should have contacted me first.
“My family and I could not sleep the whole night when we learnt about the disturbing content of the video,” he said.
Chaudhry Nisar said that the government had received a video showing Ali Haider in chains and saying that he was in the captivity of a group which was not under the control of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.
Ali Haider says in the video that the kidnappers were initially demanding Rs2 billion for his release but now they have reduced the ransom amount to Rs500 million. He also says that he will be killed if the payment is not made in a month and deplores that his family is not doing enough for his release.
Ali Haider was kidnapped by gunmen in Multan two days before the May 11 general elections.
“How could the interior minister give a clean chit to the TTP (that my son is not in their custody),” Mr Gilani said.
He said that it was against the spirit of talks (between the government and the TTP) that the government was releasing Taliban prisoners and getting nothing in return.
Earlier, the Gilani family had received Ali Haider’s recorded voice message in which he had appealed to the government, security forces and people to accept the demands of his kidnappers. Some medicines and a letter from Ali Haider’s mother were sent to him in Miramshah.
The former prime minister said: “I will talk to the prime minister and interior minister and ask them why the government has adopted a non-serious attitude regarding the release of my son.”