- Pak Army troops rescue Sindh High Court Chief Justice Syed Sajjad Ali Shah’s abducted son Awais Shah after intelligence-based operation in Tank, KP
- SHC CJ praises Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, Pakistan Army for ensuring son’s recovery
- Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, SC Chief Justice Zaheer Anwar Jamali congratulate Pakistan Army on successful operation
- Three abductors transporting hostage killed in encounter with intelligence operatives
Awais Ali Shah, the son of Sindh High Court (SHC) Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, was rescued during an intelligence-based operation (IBO) near Tank in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the military’s media wing announced on Tuesday.
Masked men kidnapped Awais from outside a supermarket in the city. He was found in Tank, which lies close to the tribal region bordering Afghanistan where the military has been battling Taliban.
“Awais Shah, son of Sindh chief justice, recovered through an IBO from custody of terrorists from near Tank, three terrorists killed,” tweeted ISPR Director General Asim Bajwa early on Tuesday.
Awais was reunited with his family around 9:30am in Karachi.
“I got a call from General Raheel Sharif at 3am informing me that my son has been rescued,” the SHC CJ said while addressing the media after being reunited with his son.
“General Raheel told me he was personally monitoring the case and informed me of my son’s safe recovery.”
He added, “Pakistan Army is the only one to credit for the recovery of my son.”
“The army chief was kind enough to let me speak to my son an hour after his recovery, and arrange a helicopter for him from Tank back to Karachi.”
“All I know is that my son is back,” Sajjad Shah said when asked who was responsible for the kidnapping.
The army chief commended the efforts of intelligence and security forces for conducting a successful operation to recover the SHC CJ’s son.
“The COAS also called and congratulated the SHC CJ on the recovery of his son,” Bajwa added.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Hours after Shah’s recovery, DG ISPR Lt-Gen Asim Bajwa shared details of the rescue operation.
“The operation was conducted in DI Khan near Tank around 2:30am based on intelligence reports as over the past few days we had some technical evidence of movement in the area,” Bajwa said.
Bajwa said a figure in a burqa was found in the backseat of the vehicle after gunmen from the security forces shot the driver and two armed militants in order to stop a suspicious blue Toyota Surf that refused to halt at a checkpoint. The burqa-clad figure was identified as Awais Shah, blindfolded, with his hands and feet chained and tape across his mouth.
“He was in a burqa. When we lifted it, he was under it and he had tape on his mouth. It was removed and he said ‘My name is Awais Shah and I’m the son of the Sindh High Court Chief Justice’. Security forces then took Shah to a nearby camp where we cut his chains.”
“This was a TTP splinter group with some Al Qaeda elements,” said Bajwa, explaining the affiliation of Shah’s kidnappers.
“Intelligence agencies were working at a ‘surge rate’. There was a whole chain of people who were awake to make this operation a success last night and there is always some operation of this scale going on.”
Bajwa also allayed suspicions, saying there is no information that any political party was involved in the kidnapping.
The ISPR chief said all three terrorists were killed.
“The operation was only completed this morning and Awais hasn’t been debriefed yet,” said Bajwa, explaining why Shah hasn’t spoken to the media since returning home just a few hours ago.
For operational reasons, the kidnappers’ demands and the location they contacted Shah’s family from could not be shared, said Bajwa.
“It’s possible that it can help us in our work ahead,” he said.
‘They wanted to spread terror’
“Whatever high profile kidnappings they did, they had a purpose. They wanted to spread terror,” said Bajwa, referring to the series of high profile kidnappings of Ali Haider Gilani, Shahbaz Taseer and Awais Shah.
“I want to salute the affected families. They have faced this challenge with perseverance, and ultimately all three hostages were recovered.”
The DG ISPR said three AK-47 assault rifles, 500 rounds, six grenades and some drum magazines were found from the killed militants’ possession.
Bajwa also revealed security is heightened in DI Khan as there has been a “surge” in extremist activity in the area, especially along the DI Khan-Tank road.
“A crackdown is ongoing and intelligence agencies are on it. A terrorist was involved in sectarian activities and there was a gang there. DI Khan has been an origin of this before and it remains a high threat zone. We have a plan on this.”
“Our efforts are not slowing and counter-terrorism efforts and combing operations will keep going at a heightened level, as well as pressure on facilitators through intelligence-based operations,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif congratulated the SHC chief justice on his son’s recovery and praised security forces.
“The prime minister lauded the role of intelligence agencies and security forces in recovering Awais Shah, saying the professional and operational excellence of our security forces has made it possible for which they deserve immense appreciation,” a statement issued by PM House said.
Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali on Tuesday appreciated the efforts put in by the federal, provincial governments and law enforcement agencies on ensuring safe recovery of Barrister Awais Ali Shah.
He expressed satisfaction over the recovery and added that it has heightened the morale of the people and their faith in the law enforcement and intelligence agencies of the country.
The chief justice also praised the Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif for personally monitoring the operation.
Chief Justice Jamali congratulated victim’s family and extended his thanks and gratitude to well wishers who prayed for safe recovery of Barrister Awais Ali Shah.
He hoped that in future, too, law enforcers will show same commitment and zeal to fight terrorism and crime in the country.
Karachi has long been plagued by political, ethnic and religious violence, although crime has dropped sharply since the launch of a paramilitary operation in September 2013.
The country has been fighting an extremist insurgency led by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella group of militant organisations seeking the overthrow of the government, since 2007.
Violence countrywide has dropped significantly since 2014, when the military launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, but attacks against civilians and security forces continue.
Earlier this year, Shahbaz Taseer, the son of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, was rescued four years after he was kidnapped by militants in Lahore.
Last month, the US and Afghan forces also freed Ali Haider Gilani, the son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, three years after gunmen abducted him.