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LAHORE: As the family of Ali Haider Gilani is eagerly awaiting his return from Afghanistan, a large number of PPP workers gathered at the Lahore and Multan residences of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to celebrate the safe recovery of his son.

Dancing to the drumbeats, the PPP workers expressed their joy and paid a tribute to the courage of the Gilani family.

“Although I had reservations over the party policies in Punjab, I got overwhelmed after hearing the news that Ali Haider had been recovered safely. I am here (at Gilani’s Defence residence) along with other PPP workers to tell the Gilanis that we are with them at this moment of happiness,” Ishtiaq Ahmed, a PPP worker, told Dawn.

This is the first time that a good number of PPP workers visited Gilani’s house in Lahore after the party lost the 2013 elections.

“This is another great news we had this year. The recovery of Shahbaz Taseer, son of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer (three months ago), and Ali Haider Gilani is the best news the PPP had in recent times,” another worker Latif said.

The PPP’s former Lahore chapter announced celebrating the release of Haider in the city on Wednesday. “We are very happy about the safe recovery of Haider Gilani and will celebrate this like we did in the case of Shahbaz Taseer,” PPP leader Faisal Mir told Dawn.

Haider’s brother Musa Gilani came out of the house and thanked the workers. He said his brother was safe because of the prayers of the nation and the PPP workers.

Joining the wave of elation, Shahbaz Taseer said: “Welcome back Ali Haider”.

Assefa Bhutto Zardari tweeted: “Thank God for amazing news. Haider will soon be back with his family.”

Former president Asif Ali Zardari said the release of Ali Haider Gilani after three years of captivity “is the most welcome news not only for Haider and his family but also for the whole nation”. The former president said it was not clear as to how his release became possible. All those who made efforts in securing his release deserve to be commended.

PML-Q leaders Shujaat Hussain, Pervaiz Elahi and Moonis Elahi have congratulated Yousuf Raza Gilani and his family on safe recovery of Haider Gilani.

Our Multan correspondent adds: Abdul Qadir Gilani has said the recovery of his brother is the result of joint efforts of the Pakistan Army and intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Afghanistan. “I have no words to express my happiness. I am thankful to Allah as after three years and one day, we the family, people of area and friends got this good news. We are also thankful to all those people who prayed for the recovery of my brother,” he said.

He said Gen Raheel Sharif made a phone call to his father and congratulated him.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2016