Mushtaq Yusufzai, my nephew, works here at The News as a reporter and also writes for foreign media. He was captured by the Pakistani Taliban. Pakistani and Afghan Taliban are very different. They have the same worldview, they are cooperating, and they are allies, but their ways of working are very different. The Pakistani Taliban have been much more involved in kidnapping and crime.
Mushtaq was baited with promises of interviews with top TTP (Pakistani Taliban) commanders. Then he was kept in a basement in one of their local hideouts and there was a real danger that he would be killed. We heard that they suspected Mushtaq of spying for the Pakistani army. It was strange, because not long ago, Fakir Muhammad, the deputy leader of the Pakistani Taliban, had publically praised Mushtaq because he had gone out to the war zone often and his coverage was thorough.

We held a meeting here at the office when we found out and all the journalists came. We first thought we should call Baituallah Mehsud [then leader of the Pakistani Taliban], and tell him the story. We even drafted a letter to him, but finally I decided not to contact him. I wasn’t sure whether Baituallah could be very helpful and many of the journalists weren’t comfortable with seeking his help. Also, by this time were getting signals that the Taliban had interviewed Mushtaq and now believed that he was innocent. They also knew that he was my nephew.

I went there while he was being held, but I just went saw the place and came back. After he was released, I went there again and this time Mushtaq was with me. We went to the exact same place he was being held. We were treated well. They said it was a mistake. I think in the end Mushtaq’s own bravery and courage, the way he answered their questions, was the main reason he got out safe. One of his captors is still in touch with Mushtraq as a source. A very good source!

Shahan Mufti teaches journalism at the University of Richmond. He is the author of The Faithful Scribe: A Story of Islam, Pakistan, Family, and War.