LAHORE: Ali Haider Gilani, who was recovered in a joint Afghan-US forces operation in Ghazni, reunited with his family after three years on Wednesday.
Ali Gilani, son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, was flown Lahore through special aircraft owned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Jubilant Gilani family including his mother, wife, son, brothers, party workers and friends received Ali Gilani at the VIP lounge of the Allama Iqbal Airport.
Emotional scenes were witnessed when Ali Haider Gilani met his family.
Ali Haider lifted his six-year-old son in his arms as he met his family. His mother cried tears of joy.
Earlier, the Afghan defense minister handed over Ali Haider to the Pakistan ambassador in Kabul Abrar Hussain at 10 a.m in Kabul. They were taken to the Airport by a helicopter for onward travel to Lahore.
The family is jubilant over the much anticipated meeting. Ali Haider’s mother Fouzia Gilani said that for the last three years she had been shedding tears. “Allah has finally heard my prayers.”
His brother Abdul Qadir Gilani who shares a birthday with Ali Haider said that for the last three years he has not celebrated his birthday. “But now I will,” he said.
Jubilant party workers and friends gathered outside the Gilani residence in Multan breaking into dance and celebrations.
Ali Haider Gilani was recovered on Tuesday from his captors in the Ghazni province of Afghanistan, three years after he was kidnapped on May 9, 2013 from Multan while participating in the election campaign.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the news after the office of President Ashraf Ghani released a similar statement.
“The Afghan National Security Adviser, Mr. Mohammad Hanif Atmar, in a telephone call to the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz, informed that Mr. Ali Haider Gilani, son of Mr. Yusuf Raza Gilani, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, has been recovered today in a joint operation carried out by the Afghan and US security forces in Ghazni, Afghanistan.”
Soon after Yusuf Raza Gilani received a telephone call from the Afghan ambassador in Islamabad Dr Omar Zakhilwal explaining that Ali Haider had been recovered in a joint US-Afghan operation.
Ali Haider’s recovery comes soon after the release of another high-profile Pakistani, Shahbaz Taseer, the son of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, who spent nearly five years in captivity and was recovered from Quetta.
For the families and friends, it was heartening that both the youngsters were in good health when recovered.
“When we first heard the news, we didn’t believe it and only believed it when the Foreign Office confirmed it,” Ali Musa Gilani, Ali Haider’s brother, told Geo TV. “Right now, we don’t have any plans to celebrate. We are just waiting to see his face.”