Son of slain Pakistani governor abducted

Shahbaz Taseer's family says it has received threats ever since his father was killed for opposing a blasphemy law.

    Family of Shahbaz Taseer says Taliban could be behind the kidnapping [Reuters: File photo]

    The son of a Pakistani governor, who was killed by his bodyguard for his opposition to a controversial blasphemy law in January, has been abducted in the eastern city of Lahore, police and his family said.

    "Four men in a car intercepted Shahbaz Taseer's car in Lahore's upmarket Gulberg area," Syed Mumtaz, a police official, told the AFP news agency on Friday.

    Rana Sanaullah, the provincial law minister, said Taseer had been provided an official security detail in addition to the private guards he kept. But he was without security at the time of the incident.

    "We are looking into it as to why this lapse happened," he told the Reuters news agency.

    "Shahbaz was out with a friend when four unidentified people kidnapped him," Shehryar Taseer, his brother, told Reuters.

    Shahbaz Taseer is a director in several companies his father founded, including Pace Pakistan Ltd, First Capital Equities Ltd, Media Times Ltd and First Capital Securities Corp Ltd.

    "Our family has been receiving threats from the Taliban and extremist groups," Shehryar said, adding they could be behind the abduction.

    No group has claimed responsibility so far.

    US-based Human Rights Watch confirmed the abduction. Its Pakistan director, Ali Dayan, said the federal and provincial governments "must ensure that the younger Taseer is recovered speedily and his abductors are held accountable".

    Blasphemy law

    Taseer's father, Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab province, of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, was killed after he came out in support of a woman accused of committing blasphemy.

    Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of four, was sentenced to death in a case stemming from a village dispute, putting the country's blasphemy law in the spotlight.

    Taseer's murder was followed two months later by the assassination of another vocal opponent of the law, minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian in the cabinet of Yousuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister.

    Shahbaz Taseer filed the criminal case against the bodyguard who killed his father in January.

    His abduction is the second high-profile kidnapping in Lahore this month.

    Police are still searching for an American aid expert who was kidnapped about two weeks ago.

    Warren Weinstein, 70, the country director for JE Austin Associates Inc, had been working on a project in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas where Pakistani troops have been battling fighters for years.

    Up to eight assailants kidnapped Weinstein in a pre-dawn raid on his house in Lahore on August 13.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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