QUETTA: Balochistan government spokesperson Anwarul Haq Kakar claimed on Saturday that law enforcers who rescued Shahbaz Taseer learnt about his whereabouts after an intelligence agency asked the provincial law-enforcement authorities to conduct a ‘raid’.
According to a Dawn.com report quoting DawnNews, Mr Kakar claimed that the Taseer family had informed an intelligence agency, after receiving a call from Shahbaz, that he had been set free by his kidnappers.
The intelligence agency in turn informed the Frontier Corps (FC) and Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) to conduct a ‘raid and rescue’ him.
Referring to the criticism that the Balochistan government had unnecessarily praised the FC and CTD personnel over Taseer’s release, Mr Kakar said the two agencies deserved praise for “their untiring efforts in the war against terrorism”.
“They were not sent to Centaurus Mall, but to a place where terrorists might have attacked them.
“We were not claiming credit for ourselves or law enforcers,” he clarified.
The spokesperson explained that he released the information solely to satisfy the media.
He elaborated that the provincial government’s ‘sole fault’ was that it rejoiced over the news of Taseer’s release as his abduction had tarnished the country’s image.
Shahbaz Taseer, a son of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, was recovered on March 8, after being held by kidnappers for over four and a half years. He was found in the Kuchlak area, at a place about 25km from Quetta, security officials had said.
After his recovery, Balochistan IGP Ahsan Mehboob claimed that Shahbaz Taseer was recovered from a hotel on the outskirts of Kuchlak town.
“Intelligence agencies and personnel from the CTD conducted a raid in the Kuchlak area and recovered Shahbaz Taseer,” IGP Mehboob had told Dawn, adding that Shahbaz was freed without incident and that security forces encountered no resistance when they raided the hotel compound.
Locals say Shahbaz Taseer walked into a restaurant, had a meal, paid for it and asked for a phone to make a call, implying that he had already been released by his captors.
Iftikhar A. Khan in Islamabad adds: The interior minister has received the report of an inquiry he ordered into the recovery of Shahbaz Taseer.
The minister had asked for the report when it emerged that the young man made his way to the authorities on his own, rather than being recovered in an “intelligence-based operation”, as had been claimed earlier.
The report reveals that Shahbaz was released by his captors and was not recovered in an operation. The report states that it would be premature to suggest whether any ransom money was paid for his release, but recommends strict action against officers who tried to attribute the recovery to their performance.
The interior minister had formed a committee, headed by the special secretary (interior), to look into the matter and account for the discrepancy in the accounts of Shahbaz’s recovery.
Our Staff Reporter adds from Lahore: Shahbaz Taseer chose on Saturday to express his happiness over his safe return from the clutches of militants.
“Fear can hold you prisoner, hope can set you free — good to be back,” he said on his Twitter account.
His wife Maheen said: “I count my blessings with my husband. New beginnings Alhamdulillah. Prayers & love transcends all bounds.”
The relatives and friends continue visiting the Taseer family to greet them.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari reached here from Karachi to meet Shahbaz Taseer. Bilawal, who is a close friend of Shahbaz, spent a few hours with him and his family members and shared happy moments with them.
PPP senior leader Sherry Rehman said: “Still rubbing my eyes to ensure this is not a dream. Aamna Taseer and Shahbaz Taseer reunited after a trial of fire.”
After his recovery, Shahbaz Taseer underwent a medical check-up and was kept at an army mess in Quetta before being flown to Lahore the next day.
He 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.
Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2016