Shahbaz Taseer Speaks of Brutal Torture by Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
NEW DELHI: Shahbaz Taseer, the son of slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who was freed in March this year after being held captive for four years, has said that he was brutally tortured during that time.
Providing details about his captivity, Shahbaz said that he was being held by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
Speaking to BBC Urdu, he said that "they abducted me from Lahore and took me to Waziristan's Meer Ali area and used to shift my location every month from there."
Pakistan’s Dawn News provides the following translation: He claimed that when Uzbeks attacked Karachi airport he was there in Meer Ali, but as they knew how Pakistan's government and army will respond, they shifted him to Datta Khel where he stayed there till February 2015.
"Following the dispute, Afghan Taliban attacked the Uzbeks and eliminated their whole group — their leadership. For three days, only death lived there.
"At that time I got an opportunity to escape and did so, but Afghan Taliban took me for an Uzbek and captured me. I was kept with other prisoners and then they took us to a village where a judge came and awarded sentences from 6 months to 2 years and we were sent to an Afghan jail.
"There i met a fellow Taliban prisoner who helped my release, it took him two to three months but he paved the way for my release" said Shahbaz.
Shahbaz added that he travelled from Afghanistan to Kuchlak on a motorbike, which took eight days, adding that he could not tell if they did not know who he was, and whether he is moving towards his freedom or this was some trap.
Shahbaz Taseer provided details about the torture he suffered whilst in captivity. "They used to flog me. I was flogged about 500 in three days, then they cut my back with blades and removed nails from my hands and feet," he said, adding that he was starved for days. Once, his mouth was sewed shut.
"They used to torture me for making films and used to tell me their plans in advance. Like they would tell me that they will remove my nails tomorrow. I used to pray the whole night," said Shahbaz.
On one occasion when he was suffering from Malaria, his captors refused to provide him with any medicine or relief, Shahbaz related.
A report in Dawn states: When asked about any 'memorable incident' during this more than four year ordeal, Shahbaz narrated an incident about his days in Shawwal where he saved three children of his captors' family from dying in bombardment.
"One night in Ramazan, they (the captors) had to move with children and women to a safer place as the area was being bombed heavily.
“They asked me to move by my own but if I tried to escape, I will be responsible for what happens to me,” he narrated.
“Their women could not carry all their children and three of them were left behind. So I ran back and lifted two of them, while the third (a minor girl) came running with me…”
“I took the kids to a safer place where those women took them from me and thanked me. I could have escaped but human values did not allow me to save my life leaving the three kids to die,” Shahbaz said.
Shahbaz made headlines around the world when he emerged in March this year, picked up by security forces from a restaurant in Kuchlak, Balochistan. 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 Shahbaz’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.