ISLAMABAD  -  Pakistan People’s Party’s young politician Ali Haider Gilani, who was rescued from Taliban’s captivity, has once again jumped into Pakistan’s political foray with an aim to dispel the impression of being terrorised by the forces of coercion.

Haider Gilani, the son of former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani, was kidnapped in 2013 during an election campaign, seems not deterred despite being in the captivity of Taliban for three years and set to venture out in the electoral race with vigour.

In the 2018 elections, Gilani along with his three sons including Haider Gilani is testing his political muscles from Punjab.

Haider Gilani is set to challenge Shoukat Hayat Bosan (independent), Malik Amir Bapi of PML-N and Khalid Javed Wariach of the PTI from Punjab Assembly’s PP-211 seat.

“If the three years captivity under the Taliban could not deter my spirits, how could the electoral adversaries deter my morale and commitment towards democracy,” Haider Gilani said in an exclusive interview with The Nation. 

The PPP’s young politician was rescued from Taliban captivity in Afghanistan three years back after his abduction from his hometown, Multan. He was campaigning for a provincial assembly seat in 2013 elections when he was kidnapped in broad daylight.

Sharing his ordeal during the captivity and the level of morale, Haider Gilani said that he inquired about the results of 2013 polls of his constituency in his first contact with his family members.

“Soon after informing about my brother on the phone about my well-being, I posed a question about the result of my constituency (Multan), specifically about the number of votes cast in favour of me,” said Gilani, sharing his first telephonic contact and a brief chat with his brother and other family members while still in the captivity of Taliban.

He said that his brother told him that he had secured 27,000 votes from his constituency. “I thought, my brother is kidding with me, but it was true,” he said adding that his opponent won the polls by a close margin.

He thanked the voters for casting votes for him even in his absence. “It was unclear that I would be rescued and return to the constituency, but I really thank the voters for casting votes in my favour,” he said and confidently believed that he would grab the PP-211 seat this time around.

He said that during his first telephonic conversation with his family members, a Taliban member was sitting near him.

“The Taliban member was seemingly amazed to know about my passion for politics even in captivity as he posed a question that you still have interest in elections and politics,” Gilani said adding that his response to him was that “politics is in my blood”.

He said that the Taliban member gave the impression conducting elections in a country was not a good practice.

About his aims and ambitions in politics, Haider Gilani said, “he wants to become a symbol of courage”.

“Still there is a danger during the current campaigning, but for a great cause, life is not a big price,” he said.

The PPP’s politician also shared that he would be the first politician in the history of the world to have known about his election results after three years as he was in the captivity.

The son of former prime minister said that his party leadership had already given many sacrifices. “Our party leadership has sacrificed lives and our struggle will continue,” he said firmly mentioning that he would not even think of quitting politics. “If I quit politics, it would be the victory of Taliban,” he said, adding that his father (Yousaf Raza Gilani) was still encouraging him in politics.

Haider Gilani further said that he was also writing a book about his life in the detention period. “Actually, I am busy in the campaign so I could not get much time to complete it,” he said.

Talking about the difficulties during his detention period, he said that he was kept in a small room and could not see the sky for over a year. “I lived in isolation and they chained me for two years,” he said, mentioning that that ordeal had never shaken his courage.

About his aims in politics, he said that he would like to form a concrete policy about ‘radicalization’. “There is a need for a compact policy on radicalization,” he said adding that he has also discussed the idea with party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

Answering a question about the pre-poll rigging, he said that they were swimming against the tide.