ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said that militant organisations, including al Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban, are planning to kidnap Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as he visits Pakistan in December.
Regarding the mysterious abduction of Punjab’s slain governor Salmaan Taseer’s son, he claimed that Shahbaz Taseer is alive and was recently shifted to the Pak-Afghan border, most probably to North Waziristan.
Threats to Bilawal
“The TTP and al Qaeda have planned to assassinate Bilawal,” Malik told reporters on Monday. “Necessary measures have been taken for Bilawal’s security in and outside of Pakistan,” he said.
According to intelligence reports, Bilawal could be targeted by militants when he comes to visit Garhi Khuda Bux – his family’s native town in Sindh – in December to commemorate his mother Benazir Bhutto’s death anniversary.
Officials associated with the National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) told The Express Tribune that the cell has shared reports with President Zardari regarding the threats to Bilawal’s life. An official letter was also sent to the Prime Minister Secretariat earlier this month.
A senior interior ministry official, quoting revelations of the British Security Service (MI5), confirmed that there were threats to Bilawal’s life. The MI5 in coordination with the Oxford University – where Bilawal is currently studying – is assessing how to provide more security to Bilawal, the official said. A detailed report will be handed over to the president at the end of the month, he said. Around Rs136.5 million is being spent on Bilawal’s security in Britain, according to official sources. However, NCMC chief Brig (retd) Javaid Lodhi refused to divulge any details due to “the sensitivity of the matter”.
Meanwhile, the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta), in collaboration with the NCMC, has begun investigations to foil threats against the president’s son, officials said. Nacta, with assistance from Rangers, also found some clues regarding death threats against famous politicians and personalities in Karachi, they said.
Malik also made some startling revelations in the Shahbaz Taseer abduction case, which has entered its eighth week. He assured that Shahbaz’s whereabouts will be unearthed soon. “The kidnappers’ identity still remains unclear since no militant organisation has confirmed his kidnapping yet,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2011.
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