Son of ex-Pakistani Prime Minister rescued in US-Afghan Raid

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On Tuesday, Ali Haider Gilani, son of former Pakistani prime minister, was unexpectedly found and rescued by U.S. and Afghan forces. A joint-operation between U.S. Special Operation Forces and Afghan forces were organized to raid an area which a significant al-Qaeda operative is present.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said the objective of the operation “was to go after al-Qaeda-related targets in the area, and there was an indication that there may have been a hostage being held with them.” He added “He (Gilani) was the sole noncombatant. He didn’t fight back, so we picked him up.”

A statement was released by the U.S. that four enemy combatants were killed in the counterterrorism mission.

The younger Gilani, about 30, was abducted from his home town of Multan in May 2013. Gunmen kidnapped him days before he was suppose to run in a provincial assembly elections. Gilani is said to be in good health condition and after medical checks, he will be transported to the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul.

He is the son of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who served from 2008 to 2012. The elder Gilani mentioned the kidnappers would exchange his son for the release of several al-Qaeda prisoners. He did talk to his son by phone for several minutes.

“This is a very good day for me,” said the elder Gilani. Abdul Qadir Gilani, captive’s brother, said “I am very happy and I have no words to express my joy.” Abdul Qadir Gilani also praised the Afghan authorities and Pakistan army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif for the rescue.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani praised the Afghan forces’ “increasing capability in conducting successful anti-terror and humanitarian operations.” For the Afghanistan military, this operation proves that the Afghan special operation forces are skilled at high-stakes counterterrorism missions while working with the U.S. military.