KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The son of a former Pakistani prime minister who was freed from kidnappers in a dramatic military rescue in Afghanistan was handed over to Pakistan's ambassador in Kabul on Wednesday.
Ali Haidar Gilani arrived by helicopter at the Afghan Ministry of Defense in Kabul, where he was greeted with hugs and handshakes by Pakistani Ambassador Abrar Hussain. He was expected to be flown home to Pakistan in a special plane sent to Kabul by the Islamabad government.
Gilani was rescued during a joint U.S. -Afghan commando raid on an al-Qaida compound near the Pakistani border on Tuesday, after three years of captivity by militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He spent the night at a military base, undergoing medical check-ups. He arrived at the ministry with long hair and a heavy beard, wearing a T-shirt, combat trousers and a baseball cap.
Speaking in halting English, he thanked Afghan forces for "their sacrifice for someone from another country." He also thanked U.S. forces for providing shelter, food and medical care.
"Right now I just want to be reunited with my family and get back to normal life," he said. His father, Yusuf Raza Gilani served as prime minister from 2008 to 2012.
His rescue had been a "nice surprise," the spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland said earlier, as it was not known that Gilani was being held at the location where the operation was taking place.
The raid in the Gayan district of Paktika province was conducted under the authority of the U.S. anti-terrorist mission in Afghanistan, Operation Freedom's Sentinel.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter praised the rescue, calling it "an excellent example of the strong security and intelligence partnership between Afghan and U.S. forces."