Video of Gen Tariq’s abducted son-in-law emerges
09 February, 2011
LAHORE: The Pakistani authorities have finally received a videotape message of Amir Aftab Malik, the missing son-in-law of the former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Tariq Majid, saying that he was in the custody of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) militants.
Amir Malik, 35, a jeweler and the President of Barkat Market Traders Union in Garden Town Lahore, was kidnapped by gun totting men on August 25, 2010 from his Faisal Town, Lahore residence. In the videotape message showing masked militants wielding Kalashnikov in the background, a visibly shaken Amir has sttated that his kidnappers wan to be paid a ransom amount of Rs130 million as well as the release of 153 militants being held in various prisons across Pakistan.
According to well-placed security officials investigating the first ever incident of the kidnapping of a close relative of a serving army general, the hostage, who has been shown in the video with a grown up beard, did not give a deadline for the acceptance of the LJ’s demands. The sources say a copy of Amir Aftab Malik’s video message had been provided to his family members who subsequently received a phone call from the kidnappers which was meant to provide them a chance to talk to the hostage.
The sources say the case is now being handled by the country’s top security and intelligence agencies, which are trying to broker a deal between the family members and the kidnappers. A case No 692/10 had been registered against the kidnappers under section 365 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), on the complaint of Naseem Malik, the brother-in-law of Amir Malik at Faisal Town police station. The complainant told police that the victim Amir Malik, the son of Aftab Malik, a resident of 26/L, Model Town extension, reached his house by a car 932167/LXD at around 8:25 pm on August 25, 2010.
As the main gate of the house was opened by the driver Muhammad Arshad, around a dozen armed men in a Honda City Car (silver color) bearing registration number PUK-8192 along with two motorcycles approached him. They pushed both the driver and Amir Malik into the car and sped away. However, the driver was soon dropped at some unknown location.
Those involved with the case investigations say Amir Malik was being kept somewhere in the North Waziristan tribal agency on Pak-Afghan border by the Punjabi Taliban, led by Matiur Rehman, the chief operational commander of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and one of the FBI’s most wanted al-Qaeda-linked militant commander who has been traced to multiple terror plots against the West.
An anti-Shia Sunni-Deobandi sectarian turned anti-US jehadi organisation, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Army of Jhangvi) has been involved in most of the major terrorist attacks carried out in Pakistan since 9/11 and it remains the group of choice for hard-core Pakistani militants who are adamant to pursue their ambitious jihadi agenda against the West. Launched in 1996 as a Sunni sectarian group, the LJ today has deep links with al-Qaeda and the Taliban and is considered to be the most violent terrorist organisation operating in Pakistan with the help of its lethal suicide squad.
The top three names on the list of the 153 terrorists the kidnappers of Amir Malik want to be released are Malik Mohammad Ishaq, the frightening founding member of the LJ currently being kept in a Lahore jail on terrorism charges, Akram Lahori, the Salar-e-Aala of the LJ who is being kept in a Karachi jail on terrorism charges and Mohammad Aqeel alias Dr Osman, who was captured alive after the October 10, 2009 fierce terrorist attack on the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army and is now being kept in a Rawalpindi jail.
Those investigating the case pointed out that the LJ militants had earlier tried to hijack a bus in Lahore on March 3, 2009, carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team, primarily to use the hostages as a bargaining chip to demand the release of detained LJ militants. Muhammad Zubair, the main accused in the bus attack case, has already confessed having been motivated to wage jihad by Ustad Abdullah who had narrated sufferings of the Lal Masjid students killed in the July 2007 bloody Operation Silence carried out by the Pakistan Army in the heart of Islamabad.
Those investigating the case say the prime motive behind Amir’s kidnapping could be the lead role played by General Tariq Majeed in the Operation Silence, which was carried out against the fanatic clerics of the Lal Masjid and their jihadi followers. General Tariq, who had retired from the Army service on October 7, 2010 [hardly five weeks after the kidnapping incident] was the Corps Commander of Rawalpindi at the time of Lal Masjid operation.
His one-year stint as the Rawalpindi corps commander was eventful as it featured the suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the siege of Lal Masjid. Being the Commander of the X Corps, General Tariq was incharge of the armed forces, which were tasked to take down the militants stationed inside the Lal Masjid. Soon after the Operation Silence was over, he was elevated by General Musharraf as the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee - a post he held from October 2007 to October 2010.
Sources say the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi had issued an “Eilan-e-Umumi” (general announcement) after the Lal Masjid operation, stating that revenge would be taken from all those responsible for the bloody raid in which the military was used to flush out the militants from the mosque.
Those named in the “Eilan-e-Umumi” included then President and Army Chief General Pervez Musharraf, then Director General of the Inter Services Intelligence General Ashfaq Kayani, then Director General Military Intelligence Major General Nadeem Ejaz, and then Corps Commander Rawalpindi General Tariq Majeed. On 30 October 2007, hardly three weeks after General Tariq Majeed was elevated as the CJCSC, a suicide bomber exploded himself at a checkpoint outside General Tariq Majid’s official residence in the high security garrison town of Rawalpindi, killing seven people and injuring 31 others.