A Pakistani man who was held by the Taliban for nearly five years before being abruptly freed this month has described on social media the moment he was reunited with his wife.
Pakistanis have been riveted by Shahbaz Taseer and his wife Maheen’s accounts of his captivity and release.
When asked what he said to his wife the first time he saw her, he replied:
She also described the moment of their reunion:
Taseer, whose father was a liberal Punjab governor who was assassinated in 2011, has so far turned down interview requests.
But this week he went on Twitter – his late father Salmaan was also a prolific user and early adopter – to share his story in his own words.
Using the hashtag AskST, he invited questions from people eager to find out more about his detention, where according to militant sources, he was shuffled between various extremist groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Asked whether he remained loyal to his favourite football team Manchester United, he replied: “U can’t be a united fan it’s a family”.
His wife later chirped in asking “who is number one, me or @ManUtd?”, with Taseer responding:
Some responses, while light-hearted, hinted at darker times.
One user asked:
Asked whether he was asked to formally join the Taliban he said: “no, they didn’t like my sense of style”, adding that his only friend “was a spider called peter”.
Taseer also recalled phoning his mother from the restaurant he was recovered from in southwest Balochistan province earlier this month.
Many of the questions centred around how life had changed during his half decade away from civilisation.
Earlier in the week he joked that his wife had compared him to Nicholas Brody, the character played by Damien Lewis in US drama Homeland – a US Marine turned would-be terrorist after eight years in captivity.
Taseer’s story was a respite from the grim news many Pakistanis have grown accustomed to in the country’s more than decade-long fight against an Islamist insurgency, including Sunday’s bombing of a park in Lahore targeting Christians celebrating Easter that killed dozens of children.
Pakistani users have responded to Taseer’s tweets warmly.
Faiza S Khan, a Bloomsbury editor, wrote:
Even Pizza Hut Pakistan got in on the action, offering to send the self-professed pizza lover free meals for his bravery.
He later tweeted a picture of a Pizza Hut pie, saying the chain “just came through!” – cheekily adding that he was now waiting for a rival pizza chain’s offerings.