LAHORE: Finally, the authorities here in the country have established that Shahbaz Taseer, the son of slain Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, and American ‘development expert’ Dr Warren Weinstein are in the custody of a militant faction associated with the banned terrorist outfit Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Well-placed sources disclosed to TheNation on Wednesday that the cases of both the high-profile abductions are now being handled by the country’s top security and intelligence agencies, which are struggling hard to secure safe release of the abducted persons as early as possible.
According to intelligence sources, 27-year-old Taseer was shifted to some sanctuary in northwest Pakistan from Lahore during Eid holidays though police remained on ‘high-alert’ to thwart this terrorist’s move.
Sources claimed that Shahbaz Taseer was in good health but declined to comment when asked about the demands of the abductors. “It is not appropriate, at this stage, to discuss their (militants) demands,” the sources suggested. Previously in high-profile abductions, Taliban militants had either received huge ransom or preferred swap with their men in the custody of Pakistani forces or both for the safe release of important personalities.
Taliban have not asserted responsibility for these kidnapping so far but the sources believed it could be their planned tactic to avoid making claim to gain maximum time. A top police officer, on the condition of anonymity, told this reporter that the kidnappings of Shahbaz Taseer and Dr Warren were not local or provincial subjects now as far as investigations into such cases were concerned. “Now these cases (of Shahbaz Taseer and Dr Warren) are not in our jurisdiction. We have done what we could on our part. Now, it is a national and, to some extent, global issue and those authorities are dealing with the cases who are expert in such matters,” the police officer said. “One thing I confirm that it has been established who is behind the high-profile kidnappings,” the officer, who is closely monitoring the developments taking place in the said cases, emphasised.
The officer, also part of the investigation teams probing into the abductions, further said the federal government and the international powers had to deal with such situation when things go beyond the reach of local law enforcement agency (the police). “Had it not been established (the kidnapees are in Taliban custody), it would not have been possible for us to sit in our offices to look into the routine functioning of the department,” the visibly relaxed officer commented during a brief-chat with this scribe.
Most likely, an intelligence officer said, Shahbaz Taseer and Dr Warren had been picked up by the Taliban through their affiliates such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which last year abducted Amir Aftab Malik, the son-in-law of the former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Tariq Majid from Lahore and shifted him to insurgency-hit region bordering war-torn Afghanistan. A group of gunmen riding on two cars and a motorbike kidnapped the son of former governor from Gulberg area while the business tycoon was on his way to office on Friday 26 August 2011.
Panic and terror has gripped the entire City because Shahbaz Taseer’s kidnapping was the second high-profile abduction after the kidnapping of an American official, Warren Weinstein, from the Model Town area.
Meanwhile, Taseer Family has denied media reports regarding a ransom demand for Rs 2 billion. Reportedly, Taseer’s aunt Ayesha Tammy Haq says the media report about a ransom demand from the abductors is “absolutely unfounded.” Amir Malik, 35, a leading trader and the President of Barkat Market Traders Union in Garden Town Lahore, was kidnapped by gun totting men on August 25, 2010, from his Faisal Town residence. Reportedly, captive Amir stated that his kidnappers demanded a ransom of Rs130 million and the release of 153 militants being held in various prisons across Pakistan.
Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin was taken hostage by Taliban terrorists in February 2008. Tariq was traveling by road from his home in Peshawar to Kabul. The Taliban had bargained hard over Azizuddin and got lot of terrorists released in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was reported that a former al-Qaeda prisoner at the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, was also exchanged for him. Police sources say the recent high-profile abductions could be the beginning of a series of kidnappings-for-ransom of the financial elite of Lahore. – Nation