Shahbaz Taseer and today’s Pakistan

Published: August 28, 2011

Taseer and his family members had been receiving threats from Talibans.

Two cars and a motorbike were used to kidnap the son of former governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz, from Lahore’s Gulberg area while he was on his way to work on August 26. The city was gripped with panic because this was the second high-profile kidnapping, coming soon after the kidnapping of an American official from the city. Most likely, Shahbaz has been picked up by the Taliban through their affiliates such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which last February kidnapped the son-in-law of former chairman joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC), General Tariq Majid.

The police is considering other possibilities too. It could be Mr Taseer’s tenants in a plaza which he wanted vacated for repairs; it could be a rival real-estate tycoon seen attacking the Taseer family through a local newspaper; and it could be a quarrel within his circle of personal friends. However, the most credible candidate among the kidnappers is al Qaeda and its subordinate groups out to augment the fast-dwindling kitty of the global terrorist organisation.

Thirty-five year old Amir Malik, the son-in-law of General Tariq Majid, was kidnapped for ransom. He was picked up by armed men in August 2010 from his Faisal Town, Lahore residence. The videotaped message received later showed masked militants wielding kalashnikovs in the background. The price: Rs130 million as well as the release of 153 militants being held in various prisons across Pakistan. The American named Warren Weinstein, too, will most probably be returned after a big payment. An American officer similarly picked up in Quetta was rumoured to have been released after a payment.

It is unfortunate that Shahbaz Taseer did not think much of the security detail provided to him by the Punjab government. The Taseer family had a total of 17 police and five rangers personnel posted with them while Shahbaz himself had two police guards for his personal protection. Because his father, the late governor Taseer, was killed by his own police guard, he travelled without them on the fateful day. The family says they have been receiving threatening phone-calls from the Taliban and their extremist followers in Punjab.

Why should the Taliban-al Qaeda combine be interested in this kidnapping? It should be recalled that when the clergy led by the Barelvi school of thought went on the rampage in Punjab against governor Taseer’s defence of Christian Aasia Bibi’s conviction under the blasphemy law, the Taliban declared themselves resolved to take revenge from the governor. It should also be noted that the cleric who led the funeral prayer for governor Taseer was delivered credible threats till he fled to the UK to seek asylum there. The Barelvis simply don’t indulge in this kind of activity except al Qaeda is short of funds and has slowed down its attacks not because it’s ‘back is broken’ but because it needs to have money to buy weapons and explosives. This happens periodically and the kitty is replenished through kidnappings. These have taken place rather heavily in Karachi and Peshawar. In the latter city, rich people have been pauperised by the heavy ransom they have had to pay to remain alive. Those who collect include warlords like Mangal Bagh of Khyber Agency who have to finance their internecine wars. The last time al Qaeda ran short of funds, it got a retired army officer, Major Ashiq, to kidnap putatively rich people from across Pakistan for ransom. Use of explosives is the mainstay of terrorism in Pakistan and al Qaeda even tried to steal the Wah Factory explosives meant for the mining industry.

Pakistan’s record in foiling kidnapping for ransom is not very good. It is said that one senior Pakistani diplomat kidnapped by al Qaeda’s affiliates in Waziristan was released after a big payment. The same is true of an Afghan diplomat who has recently been released and lives in the palace of President Karzai for fear of being kidnapped again and is narrating his tale of woe to the world media. In the case of General Tariq Majid’s son-in-law, the negotiations may still be ongoing and one should be grateful that state agencies still have a way of reaching the kidnappers. We hope and pray that Shahbaz Taseer will be released soon.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2011.

Reader Comments (13)

  • Ms.A
    Aug 28, 2011 - 1:15AM

    Insha Allah

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  • Tahir
    Aug 28, 2011 - 1:21AM

    I ask ET ediotiral to stop making accusationon on who did the kidnapping without proof.

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  • Baba ji
    Aug 28, 2011 - 1:26AM

    The Taseer family had a total of 17 police and five rangers personnel posted with them while Shahbaz himself had two police guards for his personal protection. <<<<<<<<

    Dang !!!! …….. why? if whole police force is engaged in “safeguarding” these rich VIPs then who has to look after the common man …

    why cant he afford his private guards ? if he can ride an SLK then he surely can afford his own guards …

    I wish and pray for his safe recovery though …

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  • Jiten Maurya
    Aug 28, 2011 - 2:23AM

    The Pakistani Military has used Kashmere/India conflict as a cash cow and has created hatred in Pakisrtanees against India. This tactics has helped them to get money from uSA and now from China. But most of the money has gone to Military and that is why they are the richest class there.

    Finally Taliban, Al Quida,.. and other terrorists organisations that Pakistan recognised, helped, and used under the table to terrorise india are coming to roost them.

    USA could care less when Pakistanees were terrorising India for long time. They knew it well but kept quite as Pakistan was their friend/puppett. But 9/111 opened their eyes.
    Their pressure pushed Pakistani Govt. to at least show that they are trying to control
    their terrorists. It was also a only half hearted effort, on purpose. Even that effort back fired. As Taliban, Al-quida, and many other Pakistani terroris organizations are unwilling to be riegned in.

    Bottom line – Pakistani people are paying the heavier price much more than pakistani Military and/or high honchos in Pak. Govt.

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  • farah
    Aug 28, 2011 - 2:59AM

    i hope and pray he comes home unharmed.shame on those people who did this heinous act in ramadan.so called true muslims.

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  • informant
    Aug 28, 2011 - 7:44AM

    @Baba ji:
    because the “common man” doesn’t get death threats from Al Qaeda and Taliban. simple enough?

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  • John Foster
    Aug 28, 2011 - 10:50AM

    Thats very unfortunate event. there could be connection between Qadri’s trial and shabaz’s kidnapping. This taseer family for me is symbol of hope for minorities, after this event i am losing hope for ethnic and religious minorities and the question comes to mind is whether being christian, hindu,ahmadi,shia,bralvi is safe or not. I think our majority was indoctrinated by false ideologies and now we are brain washed, confused nation. The majority of somewhat educated middle class lives in denial with the ground facts. The ground fact is that Pakistan is ethnically and religiously diverse country. where only one ideology can not be imposed on whole country. The state needs to respect that diversity if not then accept the fact that your are moving towards being as a banana republic.

    I wish the authorities recover him asap.

    John.
    Tottenham v Man City Live

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  • pakpinoy
    Aug 28, 2011 - 12:05PM

    @Tahir:

    Have you accused any of the Americans in Pakistan as being CIA without proof?? If you haven’t, then your statement may have an ounce of credibility. If you have, then your statement is simply biased hypocrisy.

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  • SharifL
    Aug 28, 2011 - 12:34PM

    The editorial is well written and reflects the realities on the ground. What I do not understand is the word pray in the last sentence. The comments also include this word. Are we not confusing issues here? If by praying problems were solved, we would not need the army, police, cameras and security arrangements at home, in cars or airplanes.
    Whenever I watch TV and read Urdu papers, this world plus Inshallah, mashallah is repeated so often, you think the whole world should stop as God is going to sort out everything anyway. I have heard this since my childhood in mosques, conversations and media. Has it helped? Once It is true for other issues also. Maulvis pray for the Kashmir freedom. As I see it Kashmir is still under Indian ‘occupation, Palestinians are still being occupied by Israel and Pakistan is still one of the most corrupt and dangerous countries in the world. Perhaps God does not interfere in human affairs. He wants us to visit a doctor when we are sick, create factories if we are jobless and build schools and hospitals to improve our lives. All these things are being done by non Muslim countries without inviting the divine blessing. A friend got a visitor from Pakistan and when they got into the car, said to the visitor to fasten the seat belts (As it is law here to do that). Do not get surprised what the guest replied: O yar, if God wants me not to get hurt, safety belts are of no use. My friend became rude: OK; if you think that way, please stand in front of the car and I drive over your body to see if God will interfere. Surprise, surprise the visitor got himself buckled up.

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  • My Name is Khan
    Aug 28, 2011 - 1:03PM

    Let’s call it out – Al Qaeda, Taliban, Fundamentalists – they are all thieves, rapists, etc. They claim to be religious but they are the scum of the earth. I hope the drones don’t stop raining down on them until each one is eliminated.

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  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Aug 28, 2011 - 7:22PM

    I dont get the liberals here, if Al-Qaeda or Taliban had abducted Taseer, wouldnt they have made it public by now? Somethings very fishy here. But liberals are too blind to realize it.

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  • fahad ullah
    Aug 28, 2011 - 8:50PM

    I think our Inteligence and police investigating office should learn from the writer ,how to investigate and built a case .How easy it has become in our country to blame Al-Qaeda for everything,why dont we understand that we have some serious flaws in our own security appratus..If Al-Qaeda is running short of money that doesnt mean they are behind this abduction,after all majority of our people are having the same financial problems so doest that mean they start abducting people.Throug out their History i havn’t seen any single such incident where any body has blamed Al-Qaeda for killing or abducting people just for money …Nah never they can be blamed for any Anti-Human crime but for money nahhhhhh not digested

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  • Hafeez Pasha
    Sep 5, 2011 - 10:44AM

    There are reports circulating that Shahbaz Taseer arranged his own kidnapping to avoid something. Those close to his family suggest that his mother is not as devastated as a mother would be.

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