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Pakistan: Awais Ali Shah, son of top judge, kidnapped

Awais Ali Shah abducted in Karachi with fears he could become a bargaining chip like other high-profile kidnappings.

Masked men kidnapped the son of a senior Pakistani judge in the southern port city of Karachi, police said, suspecting the victim could be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations to free imprisoned fighters from banned groups.

Awais Ali Shah, the son of Sindh High Court Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, was abducted outside a supermarket in the city on Monday, police said on Tuesday.

Witnesses told officers that Shah, a lawyer, had put up a fight before being quickly overpowered and thrown into a white getaway car.

"So far it is kidnapping, and my professional assessment is that it is not for ransom," Allah Dino Khawaja, the police chief in Sindh province, told Reuters news agency.

Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media, said they suspected the kidnappers would offer to free Shah in return for the release of captured fighters.

Pattern of kidnappings

Kidnapping by criminal gangs and outlawed fighters is common in Pakistan. Police did not say why they suspected that Shah had been abducted.

Karachi, a teeming metropolis of more than 20 million people, has long been plagued by political, ethnic and religious violence, although crime has dropped sharply since the launch of a paramilitary operation in September 2013.

Pakistan has been fighting an insurgency led by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella group of banned organisations seeking the overthrow of the government, since 2007..

Violence countrywide has dropped significantly since 2014, when the military launched an operation in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, but attacks against civilians and security forces continue.

READ MORE: Kidnapped son of slain governor found alive in Pakistan 

Earlier this year, Shahbaz Taseer, the son of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, was rescued four years after he was kidnapped in the eastern city of Lahore.

Last month, US and Afghan forces freed Ali Haider Gilani, the son of former Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, three years after gunmen abducted him.

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