ISLAMABAD - Former prime minister and PPP stalwart Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has said that the government exonerated Taliban by disseminating news of a video that his son Ali Haider Gilani was not in the captivity of any militant group operating under outlawed TTP.

Talking to The Nation on Sunday, the former prime minister said government was releasing TTP prisoners unilaterally in the name of 'exchange of prisoners'.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan during an informal talk had told reporters on Friday that government had recently received a video of Ali Haider Gilani in which the adducted son of Gilani had stated that he was not in the captivity of any group under the influence of TTP and the group‘s only demand was payment of ransom. The minister had informed that junior Gilani had also criticised his family saying they were not serious for the payment of ransom.

“If we accept what the government, quoting a video of Haider Gilani, says that my son is not in the captivity of any group operating under Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), we will have to forget our abducted children (Ali Haider Gilani and Shahbaz Taseer),” said Gilani.

“To say this at the moment mean we will not see our children,” he said adding the government had given a clean chit to the Taliban by releasing the ‘verbal’ details of the video.

During telephonic conversation with this correspondent, senior Gilani suspected that the motives of the government behind the dissemination of Haider Gilani’s video were clear and ‘questionable’ and its timing was very important as the government was releasing prisoners in the ‘name of exchange of prisoners’ and peace talks were at a very crucial stage.

“The briefing of the interior minister to the media about the video was necessary as the government had released prisoners,” he pointed out. The government had only disseminated those portions of video which suit it well and it should made public the other portions as well, Gilani said adding, that he was in knowledge of that video a week earlier when interior minister shared it with the media. He regretted that the government should have shared this video with the media instead of verbally briefing about its specific portions. “Morally, Ch Nisar, who is my personal friend also, should have taken me into confidence before sharing the details of the video with the media,” the former prime minister lamented. He alleged that the government by doing so had spoiled the case of his son’s release.

“I have been negotiating with Taliban for around a year and they always said your son had been abducted as you approved a military operation in Swat and Malakand while being the prime minister… they always demanded release of prisoners in exchange of release of Ali Haider Gilani,” Gilani said in a cool and calm tone. He said during his entire negotiations with the Taliban, they never demanded ransom money from me.

“I personally talked with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan and asked them to discuss our children’s release with TTP when you talk with them prisoners’ release matter,” Gilani said.

Neither I talked with the interior minister about ransom nor did I hear from him about this. Former premier, who had been sacked by Supreme Court asserted that interior minister gave an irresponsible statement. The government had released some prisoners but the other side was not ready to reciprocate.

“I have also a video that the government should also share with the media, in which abducted Gilani says that his family had made efforts in the establishment of this country and rendered great services for their homeland. I (Haider Gilani) took part in the elections and mujahideen (militants) abducted me and now I request the armed forces, security agencies and government of Pakistan to get me released as I have not seen the sky for the last 23 months,” he informed.

“What objectives the government wants to achieve by releasing specific portions of the video at this stage,” he said. “This is heartbreaking for us but God knows what objectives the government achieved,” Gilani said.  Yousaf Gilani said former PML-N MNA Javed Ibrahim Paracha, in an interview with the BBC, had admitted that he had been negotiating with Taliban for the release of Gilani’s son. He said secondly Ali Haider was in the area that was under the influence of Taliban and under the tribal traditions it was their responsibility to get him released as no one could do anything in that area without permission of the Taliban.

“I am unable to understand that why interior minister held a press conference after my year long struggle for the release of my son and we had to face a mental torture,” he said.

He went on to say that at first interior minister shared the information about video with the media, then issued a rebuttal saying it was improper to attribute the details of the video with the minister and the video was not sent to the government and questioned “What does this mean? What made them to hold the press conference?”