MULTAN: Ali Haider Gilani, son of former Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, disclosed on Wednesday that he was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda with the help of local facilitators, who took him to Faisalabad and kept him there for two and a half months before shifting him to North Waziristan.

“Except for the last 40 days in Afghanistan, they kept me in North Waziristan. No one even touched me during the whole three year period and instead treated me well. They called me Sayen,” he added while talking to a group of journalists for the first time after his safe recovery from Afghanistan here at his residence. 

“I did not see the sun for 14 consecutive months and they only brought me out when Pakistani forces started shelling. We left Datta Khel on the day Mumtaz Qadri was hanged,” Ali said. He revealed that the Al-Qaeda wanted to keep him for two or three more years to strike deal with Pakistan for a swap with their arrested men.

Ali was kidnapped from Multan on May 9, 2013 while he was running his election campaign. The kidnappers killed his secretary Mohai Uddin and a guard before bundling him in a car. American forces recovered him from Gyan district of Paktika province of Afghanistan on May 9, 2015.

Ali rejected all reports regarding payment of ransom for his release. “My family did not pay anything to anyone. Al-Qaeda people have a lot of money. They bargain for their men and not money. It’s TTP who demand ransom,” he added.

He said that Al-Qaeda was aware of the American raid and they had asked him to get ready to leave the hideout in the night. “We came out in the dark and moved towards mountains. Then a plain area begun and we started moving fast. We were just three. Suddenly the kidnappers asked me to lay down but we came under flash light from a Cobra helicopter. It was a green laser light,” Ali said.

He said kidnappers asked him to run with them but he ran in the opposite direction. “There was a slope. I lost my shoes and I fell down there. I heard two fire shots.  I could also hear a drone hovering over my head. I was very much frightened as the drone could hit me.

“I felt as if someone descended from a helicopter. I could see green lights and red eyes in the darkness. Then I heard the sound Shhhh Shhhhh. I asked him to communicate in English and he asked me to take off my shirt. He tied my hands.  “I told him my name and him that I was son of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani. American soldiers at first did not believe me at first but later they did when they got confirmation from Bagram base.

“They untied my hands and congratulated me. They told me that I was going home. They took me straight to a clinic for medical check-up,” Ali said.

He said the operation Zarb-e-Azb broke the backbone of TTP while the narrative of TTP also witnessed a major shift to Pashtoon nationalism from their earlier demand of enforcement of Sharia. “They hate Punjabis and that’s why Ismat Ullah Moawia has returned. They hold Punjabis responsible for all ills and evils.

“The capacity of Al-Qaeda has been reduced to zero as they now have few young men who work on computers. Al-Qaeda members are afraid of drones and they rarely came out of their hideouts, that too in burqas,” Ali revealed.

He claimed that Mullah Fazal Ullah, Mansoor Akhtar and Umar Khurasani had links with India.

To a query, he said that he was not actual target of the kidnappers. “They were after Ali Moosa and Abdul Qadir. But they took me away after finding lapse in my security,” he disclosed. He said that the facilitators of Al-Qaeda still existed in Pakistani cities like Faisalabad and Multan while Al-Qaeda subcontinent leadership was in Karachi. He said that one of his kidnappers belonged to Faisalabad who was caught by security agencies later on. “The very first question they asked after kidnapping me was whether I was a Shia or Sunni. They took me to Faisalabad and then North Waziristan where I lived with TTP leader Khalid Mahsood Sajna. We used to play cricket together,” he said.

He said that the TTP members were thieves, thugs and addicts but the Al-Qaeda men were pious. He said the media cell of Al-Qaeda was very advanced who regularly monitored Pakistani channels and watched the programmes of Hamid Mir and Saleem Safi. He said that he would have returned much earlier, if he had been in the custody of TTP as they used to make deals against ransom. He said that both Al-Qaeda and TTP considered Pakistan a frontline ally of USA and dubbed Pakistan government as infidel. He said Salman Taseer’s son was in the custody of Uzbeks who are very brutal people.  

He said that although the number of TTP men had declined to merely 1,000 fighters after operation Zarb-e-Azb, they still had the capacity to threaten Pakistan through their assassins. “We need to unite as a nation to defeat them,” he asserted. He said that over 80 per cent Pakistanis including him wanted enforcement of Sharia but they did not know as to how to achieve this goal. He suggested to all those who support enforcement Sharia should enforce it on themselves first.