Pakistan: slain Salmaan Taseer's son abducted in Lahore

Shahbaz Taseer, a son of the slain Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer, was kidnapped in broad daylight in Lahore on Friday.

Reports state that Taseer's Mercedes was intercepted by more than four men in a black Land Cruiser as it drove down a street adjacent to MM Alam Road, where Taseer works at a brokerage house as its Executive Director.

According to the eye witnesses Shahbaz Taseer was going towards his company office at around 10:54 am and was just a few meters away from the office when a motorcycle intercepted Taseer's vehicle, bearing the license plate LZT 1.

After he stopped, the armed men came out of a black Toyota Land Cruiser and kidnapped him at gun point. The abductors threw away Shahbaz Taseer's iPhone, two cell phones and his laptop and drove towards the Defense Housing Authority.

According to the close family sources, the Taseer family has been receiving threats from the Taliban and other extremist groups since the assassination of her father, Salman Taseer, the former governor of Punjab and a business tycoon had widely spoken against the country's controversial blasphemy laws, which he condemned them calling them "A Black Law."

Salman Taseer had also publicly supported Asia Bibi, the Christian mother-of-five who has been sentenced to death on for alleged blasphemy law and had appealed to the President of Pakistan for a pardon for Ms Bibi.

In an interview with an international news channel last November, Salman Taseer said, "If the High Court does not suspend her sentence we will pardon her.

"The blasphemy law is not a God-made law. It's a man-made law. It was made by General Zia-ul-Haq and the portion about giving a death sentence was put in by Nawaz Sharif.

"So it's a law which gives an excuse to extremists and reactionaries to target weak people and minorities."

Then, on January 4 Salman Taseer was assassinated by his own security guard, Mumtaz Qadri, in Kohsar Market in Islamabad. The self-confessed killer claimed that Taseer was a "Blasphemer".

The cleric, Muhammad Afzal Chisti, who led the funeral prayer for Salman Taseer, was forced to leave the country after receiving death threats for calling Taseer a "martyr" and leading his funeral prayer.

Early this year Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian in the Pakistani cabinet, was also assassinated in broad day light for suggesting amendments to the blasphemy laws.

Salman Taseer's daughter Shehrbano Taseer has already left the country due to the death threats. She had said, "We have been trying to wind up the business empire my father has built. My father has served the country with devotion, but we are victimised for serving the country and speaking for the voiceless."

Shehryar Taseer, brother of the kidnapped man, said, "The Punjab Government has given us the police security, but today the guards were not with Shahbaz Taseer as he went to the office. Along with the threats from the religious groups, we have the business rivals who have been targeting my father and now they are after us."

The Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, has taken notice of the kidnapping and has instructed the law enforcement agencies to ensure the safe return of Shahbaz Taseer. He also talked to Shehrbano Taseer on the phone.

The Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has instructed the Inspector General of Punjab to take immediate action. He said, "We have deployed security at the Taseer's residence, as well as at all of the entry and exit points in Lahore. The investigation teams are collecting evidences from the crime scene. The security personal are also being investigated.

"The motive of the abduction is unclear, as the abductors left the vehicle, iPhone, laptop and the other belongings. If they had intended to kill, they had a clear chance. So far no one has claimed the responsibility. We are also investigating Mumtaz Qadri, Salman Taseer`s assassin, we are investigating all the aspects in the matter."

Shahbaz Taseer's mother, Amina Taseer, says she is in no position to comment as earlier this year she lost her husband and now her son has been abducted.

According to the analysts, this may be an attempt to rescue Mumtaz Qadri in exchange for Shahbaz Taseer, as the abductors didn't take anything from the vehicle. If it was a matter of religious extremism they would have killed him on the spot.

The family has refused to comment about any specific business rival, so the only option left is the rescue for Mumtaz Qadri as the court is delaying his murder trial.

Earlier, on August 13, armed men had abducted an American aid expert Warren Weinstein from his residence in Model Town Lahore, and police are still investigating the matter. Lawlessness prevails in Karachi and Lahore and the police appear to be unable to control the situation.

The social sector has condemned Shahbaz Taseer's abduction. Several humanitarian organisations had highlighted the threats to the Taseer family after Salman Taseer`s murder.

A statement by Life for All Pakistan said, "Salman Taseer showed his solidarity with minority communities who are being targeted by the law and, in doing so, he sent across a strong message. The murders of Taseer and Bhatti and the extremism and intolerance that such acts displayed were not isolated incidents, and extremism is now part of mainstream Pakistan.

"Every Pakistani should be devastated when an individual gets kidnapped or when a human being gets killed for his personal opinion in this country.

"We are praying for the family and hope that Shahbaz Taseer returns home unharmed."