Captured And Tortured By Terrorists, Pakistani Sought Solace In Radio Broadcasts Of Manchester United Games

Shahbaz Taseer, the son of a Pakistani politician, has spoken out about his four years in captivity.

Mr Taseer was seized by gunmen in Lahore in August 2011, months after his father Salman was killed for opposing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

He told the BBC he was “tortured badly” while being held – but that he found solace in listening to Manchester United matches on the radio.

He said he was eventually released by a senior member of the Afghan Taliban.

Mr Taseer was reunited with his family in March, but has not spoken out about his experience in captivity until now, amid unanswered questions over how he was freed or whether a ransom was paid.

He says he was held by Uzbek militants, before eventually being passed to the Taliban.

Recounting the day he was captured, Mr Taseer told the BBC’s Today Programme: “I was ambushed by about five men… My first instinct was they were going to kill me.”

“They drugged me five minutes after abducting me. I passed out – they had beaten me up very badly because I was moving and screaming while being drugged.”

While held by Uzbek militants, he says he was “tortured badly”, and that he and his captors “could never relate to each other”.

Shahbaz Taseer after his release (tweeted by Inter Services Public Relations)

“I didn’t want a friendship. I was [categorical] – you’ve done this for money, you’ve ruined my life. You’re not going to find me being gracious at even a piece of bread you throw me.”

However, he and his guard did find common ground – because they were both Manchester United fans.

“I would listen to these Manchester United games every Saturday and Sunday on the radio on BBC. My guard, he was a Manchester United fan, but for him [listening to the games] was a sin.”

They would listen to the matches together in secret, Mr Taseer said, and celebrate the goals together in silence.

“Can you imagine, you’re watching a game, your team scores, and everybody screams, but here we are air jamming our celebrations.”

However, the two were not friends, Mr Taseer said. “For me, [listening to the matches] was [for my] sanity, to listen to something about the world.”

Mr Taseer said his ordeal ended after he was taken prisoner by the Afghan Taliban, who eventually let him go.

“I found someone who was senior Afghan Taliban – he worked some magic, organised for me to meet a few motorcyclists who had no idea who I was. I just got on the back of the motorcycle and came to Pakistan.”

He said being back home, “to wake up and have breakfast with my mother, and see her face”, was “the most unbelievable feeling”.



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