On most days, I listen to the Global News podcast from the BBC. Today when I tuned in, I was both delighted and flabbergasted to hear an interview with Shahbaz Taseer. He spoke about how much he loves the BBC’s Sportsworld broadcast and how it kept him going through some of the darkest times any of us could imagine.
Only two weeks ago, I finished reading Shahbaz’s book ‘Lost to the world: A Memoir of Faith, Family and Five Years in Terrorist Captivity‘ which is one of the most profoundly horrifying books I have ever read. Just imagine my surprise when I heard him speaking on my favourite podcast.
If you’d like to listen too, just click here. His story begins at 23:50:
My interest in Shahbaz is a little complicated; I’ll try to explain. I am at the start of writing my next book about women in Asia. This time I will be focusing on Pakistan and girls who are forced into marriage there. Just a few months ago, I met and interviewed a Christian woman who spent several years on death row in a Pakistani jail, having been accused of blasphemy. She had been imprisoned in the very same cell where Asia Bibi had previously been held. Asia Bibi was the victim in Pakistan’s most infamous blasphemy case, and the nation became bitterly divided about what should happen to her. The governor of Punjab stood up for Asia Bibi, which resulted in his murder. His own bodyguard was so appalled that the Governor should defend a Christian that he killed him. Riots ensued, and many more people died.
Shahbaz Taseer is the son of the Punjabi governor. Just seven months after his Father was murdered, Shahbaz was abducted by the Uzbek Taliban. He was tortured for the next five years, and the only thing that kept him sane was the BBC’s world service sports broadcasts. He and a Talib soldier listened to the games together, and although this soldier was complicit in Shahbaz’s torture, for the brief moments while they listened to Manchester United’s games, they shared a common humanity.
Shahbaz Taseer is a fantastic writer, and although his story will shock and horrify you, his bravery and humour in the face of such trials shine through. Please read his book.
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