The son of the slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer has been recovered safely five years after he was abducted in Lahore, Pakistan.
Shahbaz Taseer, who is in his 30s, was rescued from captivity by Pakistan security forces, the BBC reports. Taseer was abducted in August 2011, just months after the assassination of his father, Pakistan Peoples Party leader Salmaan Taseer, who was gunned down by his own security guard in January 2011.
His father was killed for opposing Pakistan’s blasphemy law, according to the BBC.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Was Abducted by Armed Men on Motorcycles & in a Land Cruiser While Traveling Without His Police Protection
Shahbaz Taseer was abducted from the Gulberg area of Lahore, Pakistan on August 26, 2011, according to the Express-Tribune.
He was driving in a silver Mercedes to his office at about 10:15 a.m. local time when he was intercepted by men on motorcycles and in a Land Rover SUV, the newspaper says. He was stopped about 600 years from his office and dragged out of his car at gunpoint.
Taseer was under police protection at the time of his abduction, but was not using his security detail when he was kidnapped, Geo.tv reports.
He had studied law at London University’s School of ORiental and African Studies and kept a low profile, according to NDTV.com.
2. His Father’s Assassin Was Executed on February 29, But Has Been Hailed as a Hero by Some
The assassin of Salmaan Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri, was executed by hanging on February 29, 2016, the BBC reports.
His execution was not without controversy, as thousands protested. Some Islamist groups have hailed Qadri as a hero, according to the BBC. Qadri, who was one of Salmaan Taseer’s bodyguards, said it was his religious duty to kill the governor, who had been an outspoken critic against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Taseer also supported liberal reforms.
“I have no regrets,” his brother, Malik Abid told AFP, after the execution. “We started crying, but he hugged us and chanted ‘God is great,'” he added.
3. He Was Rescued During a Raid by Secret Service & Counter-Terrorism Operatives in Balochistan
Shahbaz Taseer was rescued during an operation by secret service and counter-terrorism operatives in the Kulchak area of Quetta, Geo.tv reports.
“We surrounded the compound and we raided it. We didn’t find anyone. A single person was there and he told us my name is Shahbaz and my father’s name is Salman Taseer,” Aitzaz Goraya, head of the counter-terrorism unit, told AFP.
The raid came after authorities received a tip. According to the Express-Tribune, security analysts say it is possible a ransom was paid to secure his freedom.
4. His Wife Wrote About Her Husband’s Captivity & Provided Updates on Twitter
Shahbaz Taseer is married and his wife, Maheen, wrote about her husband’s captivity in a 2013 article in Newsweek Pakistan:
You hold on. You hope. You pray. You survive. You wish the best for him yet you know that there is suffering. You can abide your own pain, but what do I do about the pain that he might be going through and that I know nothing about?
I am told that all suffering has a purpose. Such pain can either break you or make you. I am told that I have become stronger, and knowing how Shahbaz is, I know this is true for him too. Wherever Shahbaz is being kept, I know he is worried for us. Those who know him have no doubt that this trial will make him braver, wiser, and stronger. And that perhaps will give some meaning to his senseless and violent abduction. I would like to think that my love for him and his commitment to me are helping him through this immense trial.
Maheen Taseer also frequently provided updates about her husband on Twitter and elsewhere on social media.
She recently tweeted after her father-in-law’s killer was executed:
She is a psychologist. They married in 2010, a year before he was kidnapped.
5. Taseer Was Described as Being in ‘Feeble Health’
Shahbaz Taseer is said to be in stable condition, but was described as being “feeble,” according to the Express-News.
He has spoken with his family, including his mother, and will be moved to Lahore, Ary News reports.
“He has been recovered and he is in good shape. It is the result of a joint intelligence operation with the help of FC. It is an appreciative operation and effort by all intelligence outfits,” said Anwarul Haq Kakar, a Balochistan government spokesman, told NDTV.com.
Supporters reacted to his freedom on social media:
Family, friends and supporters also gathered at the family’s home with bouquets of flowers to celebrate his safe release, according to Geo.tv.