Kidnapped son of Pakistan's ex-prime minister is freed three years after abduction

Ali Haider Gilani speaking at a campaign meeting in a house on the outskirts of Multan, on May 9, 2013, before his abduction by unidentified gunmen.
Ali Haider Gilani speaking at a campaign meeting in a house on the outskirts of Multan, on May 9, 2013, before his abduction by unidentified gunmen. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD  (AFP) – United States and Afghanistan forces have found the kidnapped son of a former Pakistani prime minister alive in an operation in Afghanistan, the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement issued Tuesday (May 10).

Ali Haider Gilani, son of Yousaf Raza Gilani, “has been recovered today in a joint operation carried out by the Afghan and US security forces in Ghazni, Afghanistan”, the statement said, adding that preparations were being made to return him to Pakistan following a medical check-up.

His brother Abdul Qadir Gilani told AFP that his father is in Afghanistan.

“I have not yet spoken to him and will confirm only after my father confirms it to us, because there have been rumours about his release earlier also which were untrue,” he said.

The foreign ministry statement comes three years after Gilani was kidnapped by suspected Taleban militants in a hail of gunfire on May 9, 2013 in Pakistan, two days before the national election in which he was campaigning.

Gunmen on a motorbike opened fire before abducting him in a black Honda car on the outskirts of Multan in Punjab province. His secretary and a bodyguard were killed, and four people wounded.

In May last year he was able to phone his father to tell him he was well.

Gilani senior was prime minister from March 2008 until he was sacked and indicted by the Supreme Court in April 2012 for refusing to re-open corruption cases against the then-president.

He had complained after the kidnapping that his family was not given security despite being threatened.