Joy over Pakistani hostage’s release

Media captionTaseer sister

The sister of one of Pakistan’s most famous hostages, who emerged from his five-year ordeal this week, has told the BBC of her relief.

Sara Taseer said she had not yet spoken to her brother Shahbaz and did not know the details of his release.

But, she added, it had brought to a close a “very stressful” time and she was “elated” her brother was free.

He was seized after his father, Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was murdered for opposing blasphemy laws.

Salman Taseer was shot dead by Mumtaz Qadri, a police guard in his security detail.

It is the first time a member of the Taseer family has spoken to a media organisation since Shahbaz was released.

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Shahbaz Taseer was released just a few days ago

The circumstances of his release are still unclear.

Ms Taseer could not confirm whether a ransom had been paid. She said she had personally never been asked for a ransom but some in her family had. She added that certain conditions had been attached to his release which were “always under negotiation”.

Shahbaz Taseer was released several days after Qadri was hanged for his father’s murder.

Ms Taseer said that with the execution of her father’s murderer, justice had been served.

But she added that many liberal Muslims in Pakistan now felt unsafe expressing themselves, fearful of inciting a radical backlash.

Qadri was hailed by many as a hero for killing Salman Taseer.

“Moderate Muslims have to be very careful, they have to be very guarded [in Pakistan],” Ms Taseer told the BBC.

“Pakistan is not a safe place, there are not consequences for people to be militant or aggressive. Liberals are being quietened or chased out. They have to be careful. Many friends of mine have been attacked. No one’s taking any chances.”

Many Islamists in Pakistan believe Salman Taseer was a heretic for trying to reform the country’s blasphemy laws.

Correspondents say the case illustrates what many say is a growing divide between liberal and extremist Muslims in Pakistan.

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