U.S. and Afghan commandos, in a joint raid on Tuesday, rescued the son of a former Pakistani prime minster after three years of captivity from “an al-Qaida affiliated” group, officials said.
Unknown gunmen kidnapped Ali Haider Gilani, son of ex-prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, from a 2013 election rally in his native southern city of Multann and his whereabouts were unknown until now.
The joint counterterrorism mission retrieved Gilani from a compound in Giyan district of Paktika province, which borders Pakistan, said a statement from the U.S military in Kabul.
"Four al-Qaida operatives were killed as a result of the operation. No other injuries or damage was observed or reported,” said Col. Pat Ryder, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which overseas operation in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Earlier, in statement released by the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad Afghan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmaar was quoted as telling his Pakistani counterparts the joint military action recovered Gilani in the Afghan province of Ghazni.
Gilani’s transfer to Pakistan is being arranged following a required medical check-up, Atmaar added.
Meanwhile, Kabul's ambassador to Islamabad, Hazrat Omer Zakhilwal says he called the former Pakistani prime minister and informed him about the good news.
"He was ecstatically delighted as expected and grateful of President [Ashraf] Ghani's personal attention to his son's safe release,” he said.
The recovery occurs at a time of increased bilateral tensions stemming from allegations that Pakistan has not ended its covert support to the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan.
The relationship deteriorated further last month after an April 19 suicide bombing in Kabul that Afghan authorities blamed on the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network allegedly operating from Pakistan.
Islamabad has denied the charges, saying it had nothing to do with the attack in which about 70 people were killed and hundreds more wounded.
Hope for improved relationship
Speaking to VOA Zakhilwal noted that steps like recovery of Gilani will encourage efforts to improve bilateral ties.
“I hope that the cooperation between security forces continues [between the two countries] and elements that threaten individual or larger than individual safety and security of people on either side are treated as enemies of both sides,” he said.
During the kidnapping in 2013, Gilani's personal secretary and a body guard were killed and several people were wounded before the kidnappers took him away according to Pakistani police.
Yusuf Raza Gilani was prime minister of Pakistan from March, 2008 to April, 2012. His kidnapped son made contact with the family about a year ago to tell them he was well.
VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this report