Son of ex-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Ali Haider Gilani, who was earlier recovered in a joint operation by Afghan-US forces in Afghanistan three years after being kidnapped, has arrived in Lahore on Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier on Wednesday, he was handed over to Pakistan officials in Kabul where he boarded the aircraft for Pakistan.
“I really appreciate Afghan-US forces who fought for my recovery,” Gilani, who was bearded, clad in a white T-shirt and sporting a camouflage baseball cap, said while talking to the media on his arrival.
Senior protocol officials of Foreign Office and brother of Ali Haider Gilani are in Kabul to bring Ali Haider home, said Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria.
He said Ali Haider was handed over to Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan Syed Ibrar Hussain at the Ministry of Defence in Kabul, from where he went to Kabul airport to travel to Pakistan.
Kasim Gilani, the twin brother of Ali Haider, posted a picture on Twitter before departing for Kabul to bring his brother home. He captioned the image, “Taking off from Islamabad to bring back our hero.”
The information about the recovery of Ali Haider was conveyed by Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar to Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in a telephonic conversation.
Aziz was further informed that Gilani was at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and is safe.
Take One Gillani and bring back 2 Gillanis: chief of protocol to pilot
— Kasim Gilani (@KasimGillani) May 11, 2016
Hundreds of people converged on the family’s home in Multan in central Punjab province as the news broke, dancing to drumbeats and passing around sweets in celebration whereas Ali Gilani‘s son also expressed ecstasy on the return of his father.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and others felicitated Gilani family.
Ex-PM’s son was kidnapped by militants in the outskirts of Multan on May 9, 2013, just two days before a bitterly contested national election in which he was campaigning.
Gunmen on a motorbike opened fire before abducting him in a black Honda car. His secretary and a bodyguard were killed, and four people wounded.
In May last year, he was able to phone his father to tell him he was well.
On Tuesday, his father broke the news of his release to a cheering crowd at a political rally in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, as hundreds of people gathered at the family’s home in Multan in central Punjab province to celebrate the news.
NATO said the raid was carried out under Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the US mission focusing on counter-terrorism as well as training, advising and assisting Afghan troops.
Four “enemy combatants” were killed during the raid, it said.
The Pentagon was tight-lipped about events leading up to the raid, but said it occurred after the US and Afghan forces had “identified terrorist activity”.
“There were terrorists where they struck and conducted this raid, and during that activity they were able to rescue Mr Gilani,” US Central Command spokesman Colonel Pat Ryder said.
US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter heralded the raid as evidence of progress by Afghanistan’s struggling security services.
Ali Gilani’s recovery comes two months after the kidnapped son of slain Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Taseer was freed.