Shahbaz reunites with family

March 10, 2016

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LAHORE: Amid moving scenes at Lahore’s old airport, Shahbaz Taseer reunited with his family on Wednesday, over four years after his abduction in 2011.

The smile on the face of the son of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, while walking towards members of his family after disembarking from a special plane, reflected all his feelings about reunion.

For the Taseers the wait for another night after his dramatic rescue near Quetta on Tuesday seemed to be quite long. On Wednesday morning, the family was asked by the authorities to get ready to receive Shahbaz at the airport. The faces of the Taseers were brimming with joy, especially his mother Amna and wife Maheen’s who had been praying for four-and-a-half years for his return.

ISPR Director General Lt Gen Asim Bajwa shared photographs of the reunion on his Twitter account.

Clad in jeans and a T-shirt, the young Taseer looked healthy in trimmed beard. However, he did not cut the long hair he grew in captivity of the kidnappers. In the photograph released by the ISPR soon after his release on Tuesday, he was wearing shalwar-kameez and sported a long beard.

“237 weeks- “La ilaha illa anta, Subhanaka, Inni kuntu minaz-zalimin”. I draw no comfort from death of the unjust- All I pray for is the return of life, my husband,” was the tweet of Maheen Shahbaz just days before his rescue.

“Heartfelt gratitude for your prayers for Shahbaz. Allah is kind & merciful. Allah will grant after hardship, ease,” she said after the news of Shahbaz’s safe recovery. “We are so happy and it is like a start of new life for all of us,” she said.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the PPP Chairman and a close friend of Shahbaz, tweeted: “A mother’s unconditional love. Never underestimate the power of her prayers. So used to condemning & condoling... not exactly sure how to react to good news...Allahu Akbar. God is Great. Welcome home Shahbaz.”

A tweet of Shehryar Taseer, the younger brother of Shahbaz, shows how much the safe recovery meant to a family which has been going through a trauma since Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by his police guard Mumtaz Qadri in Jan 2011 and the abduction of Shahbaz in August the same year.

“Mumtaz Qadri being hanged is a victory to Pakistan. Not for the Taseer family. The safe return of my brother is the only victory my family wants,” he said.

Shahbaz Taseer was recovered from a hotel on the outskirts of Kuchlak town, some 25km off Quetta, on Tuesday and taken to Quetta Cantt. He underwent a medical check-up and was kept at an army mess before being flown to Lahore.

Shahbaz was kidnapped by unidentified men in Aug 2011 in Lahore’s Gulberg area. He was driving towards the offices of the First Capital Group off M.M. Alam Road in Gulberg when he was intercepted by the kidnappers. According to witnesses, they used a Prado jeep and a motorcycle, bundled the young Taseer into the four-wheeler and sped away unchallenged.

Ali Haider, son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, was also abducted by armed men in Multan just two days before the May 2013 general election. He is believed to be kept by militants in an area bordering Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has enhanced security for the Taseer family. Over 30 policemen and three police vans have been deployed for their security.

DIG (operations) Dr Haider Ashraf told Dawn that security of the Taseers had been further enhanced after the release of Shahbaz Taseer. “We have already enhanced the security for the Taseer family in the wake of execution of Mumtaz Qadri,” he said, adding the family was satisfied with the security arrangements.

PPP CELEBRATIONS: Workers of the PPP gathered outside the Calvary Ground residence of Taseers and danced to the tune of drums and distributed sweets.

Led by Faisal Mir and Aqib Sarwar, the workers raised slogans like “welcome welcome Shahbaz Taseer, Jeay Salmaan Taseer, Jeay Bhutto, Jeay BB”.

Shahbaz and Shehryar sent a message of gratitude to the PPP workers.

Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2016