NEW DELHI: The son of slain Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, has been rescued after five years in captivity. Shahbaz Taseer, the 33-year-old son of the former Governor, was picked up by security forces on Tuesday from a restaurant in Kuchlak, Balochistan.

Shahbaz’s rescue comes just days after Mumtaz Qadri, the security guard who assassinated Salman Taseer, was awarded the death penalty by Pakistan’s Supreme Court and executed. Qadri was celebrated as a hero by those who felt he was right to kill Taseer. On Monday, 17 people were killed in a suicide bombing outside a courthouse in Shabqad, with a Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan splinter group claiming the attack in retaliation for Qadri’s execution.

Hours after Shabaz’s rescue, Gen. Asim Bajwa, Pakistan army spokesperson, tweeted pictures of a smiling Taseer who he said was “hale and hearty”.

Shahbaz was kidnapped from the elite neighbourhood of Gulberg in Lahore in 2011, as he was dragged out of his Mercedes sports car by gunmen. The kidnapping came just months after Salman Taseer was shot dead in connection to his vocal criticism of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.

The events leading up to Shahbaz’s rescue are disputed. The official version says that Shahbaz was rescued following a “raid” based on intelligence tip offs. The Balochistan government spokesperson Anwarul Haq Kakar said that members of the counter-terrorism department found Shahbaz in a backroom of Al Saleem, a restaurant in Kuchlak famous for its traditional Baloch food. “They recovered a young guy with long hair and wearing black clothes who introduced himself as Shahbaz Taseer,” he said (as quoted in The Guardian).

However, a source within the Balochistan police told the Guardian a deal had been struck with Taseer’s captors. The version of events told by the restaurant’s owner, Muhammad Saleem, suggested that Shahbaz had been deliberately released. He said Shahbaz had arrived at the restaurant on his own at about 4pm on Tuesday. After ordering and paying for a 340 rupee (£2.30) chicken dish, he asked to use a mobile phone. Although Saleem refused, a man outside lent Shahbaz his phone, on which he is believed to have called his family. Shortly afterwards, security forces arrived and took him away.

Shahbaz Taseer was then moved to Quetta, the provincial capital, said the army. He is expected to be reunited with his family in Lahore on Wednesday.

Pakistan’s interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan interrupted his own speech in Parliament to share news of Shahbaz Taseer’s rescue.

It remains unknown who kidnapped Shahbaz, or which group was holding him at the time of his release. It is common for kidnapping victims to be passed from group to group, and several militant groups have been linked to Shahbaz’s case. Officials believe Shahbaz was originally captured by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, passed on to the al-Qaeda and ended up with the TTP.

There was no comment from Shahbaz Taseer’s immediate family at the time of writing.