Police in Pakistan have confirmed that Ali Haider Gilani, a son of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, was kidnapped in the southern Punjab province on Thursday. A candidate himself, Gilani was at a campaign rally.
Police said on Thursday that Ali Haider Gilani, a candidate for the secular Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in Saturday's election, was kidnapped by armed gunmen at a rally in the city of Multan on Thursday.
"People came on a motorbike. They also had a car with them and they opened fire and abducted Yousuf Raza Gilani's son Ali Haider in a black Honda," police officer Khurram Shakur told reporters. "We have closed the entry and exit points and launched a search."
Thursday was the last day of campaigning in Pakistan ahead of Saturday's elections in a country that has spent roughly half of its life under military rule. The campaign has been marred, however, by repeated violence targeting candidates and campaign rallies.
Ali Haider Gilani, a triplet, was running for a place in Pakistan's national assembly, along with two of his brothers. His father Yousuf Raza Gilani (pictured above), prime minister from 2008 to 2012, is not permitted to run in this year's election. He was disqualified after being sacked and indicted by the Supreme Court for refusing to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Ali Haider's secretary was killed in the firing and five other people, including a bodyguard, were wounded.
"We want our brother back tonight. If we don't get him, we will not allow elections to be held in our area," Ali Musa Gilani told reporters.
The PPP has led the national government for the past five years but has struggled in the polls without Yousuf Raza Gilani and with a party chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is too young to run for the office of prime minister at 24. He is the son of President Zardari and Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister who was assassinated during the presidency of General Pervez Musharraf.
Reuters on Thursday reported that it had obtained a letter from Paksitan's Taliban pledging suicide bombings on polling day in a bid to undermine the election. The report said the letter was from Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud and was dated May 1.
msh/dr (AFP, AP)