KARACHI: Ali Haider Gilani, the son of former Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, broke his silence and spoke about his kidnapping ordeal in a recent interview to the BBC.
During his interview, Gilani also stated that he was chained for two years. Here’s how he described his captivity.
“I was kept in a small room, not allowed to see the sky for one year and two months. I forgot how the sun felt on my skin,” he said. “I prayed a lot. I used to think of my son and say I have to survive for him,” he added.
Gilani also disclosed that he kept a diary wherein he tried to keep track of time and penned his thoughts. This was, in his own words, what ‘kept him sane’.
He also disclosed that his captors did not torture him physically but tried to break him mentally by telling him he wasn’t a Muslim and neither was his father.
“They’d tell me ‘you’re not a Muslim, your father is not a Muslim, you’ll go to hell, your family aren’t doing anything to help you’.”
Gilani also described how he was kidnapped from Multan after conducting a political gathering or jalsa ahead of the 2013 general elections.
“After conducting the jalsa, I was walking away when someone grabbed me from the neck and shoved me so hard I fell onto the ground,” said Ali Haider Gilani. “I was on the ground still when one of the kidnappers rammed his gun onto my head, causing it to bleed,” he added.
Ali Haider Gilani further stated that at the time, he thought the kidnappers were going to kill him. He disclosed that the number of kidnappers were six in quantity and after shoving him inside a car, they tossed his shoes and clothes outside the vehicle.
“They threw out my shoes and clothes on suspicion that I had any spy tools on me,” he said. “I was told to remain silent otherwise I would get shot,” he said.
Ali Gilani also stated that from Multan, his kidnappers took the car outside the city via the Khanewal road. In Faisalabad, he was kept at a house for two-and-a-half months. He also revealed that between Multan and Faisalabad, nobody checked their vehicle neither was there a police check-post.
“After being kept at Faisalabad for some time, I was shifted to Waziristan,” said Gilani. Gilani also described how the terrorists told him that they viewed him as the enemy.
“They told me that I was their enemy,” said Gilani. “The kidnappers said that during my father’s era, operations against them were carried out in Swat, Abbottabad and Waziristan.
Gilani also disclosed that the Al-Qaeda wanted to have some women from the Al-Zawahiri household released by using him. He also revealed how an Al-Qaeda representative from Karachi named Zia was with him for three years.
After almost three years in captivity, it was a drone strike in January which prompted the Al-Qaeda to hand him over to the Pakistani Taliban in Shawal, North Waziristan. The Pakistan Army however, stormed into the region and pushed back the Pakistani Taliban into Afghanistan’s Paktika province.
However, the Pakistani Taliban were reportedly better captors than the Al-Qaeda and a little amount of freedom was granted to him.
“I wasn’t chained, I was allowed to walk, to see the sun,” he said. “I used to listen to the BBC, it was my contact to the outside world.”
Gilani also disclosed how the Pakistani Taliban used to enjoy cricket and even let him listen to a cricket match between Pakistan and South Africa during the World Cup 2015.
“One day I asked them for the radio to listen to a cricket match. It was the World Cup and Pakistan won a match against South Africa,” he said.
Gilani also narrated how he was able to escape, when US forces attacked the Taliban and rescued him on May 9.
“We left at night and were walking for three or four hours when I heard helicopters then gunshots,” he said. “I fell to the ground. Then a voice told me to take my shirt off, put my hands in the air and someone came and tied my hands.”
According to Gilani, at firs the American forces did not believe that he was the son of the former Prime Minister of Pakistan but later confirmed it.
“It didn’t sink in till I was in the helicopter, the guy [from the US Forces] said ‘Mr Gilani, you’re going home’,” he said.
Courtesy : TheNews