Son of ex-PM of Pakistan kidnapped

Rick Moran
Former Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's son, Ali Haider Gilani, was kidnapped at a political rally in the volitile southern Punjab province when unknown attackers opened fire on his bodyguards and grabbed him:

He was attending an election event in the city of Multan on Thursday -- the last day of campaigning across Pakistan -- when gunmen pulled up, started shooting, grabbed and threw him into a vehicle and drove off, officials and witnesses said.

A resident of Multan who attended the rally told a local TV station that the attackers first pulled up in a car and motorcycle outside the venue where the younger Gilani was meeting with a few hundred supporters.

When he came out of the building, two gunmen opened fire, killing at least one of the people in Gilani's entourage.

"One of the gunmen grabbed Haider who had blood splashed on his trousers," said Shehryar Ali in comments aired by Pakistani television broadcaster Geo News.

The former prime minister was not at the event when his son was taken.

Speaking to reporters at the family's home in Multan, the elder Gilani appeared shaken but composed. He said two of his son's guards were killed in the attack, but he did not know whether his son was wounded.

"His two guards were shielding him, and they died," said the former premier in comments aired on Pakistani television. "I urge all of my party supporters to remain peaceful and participate in the vote."

It was not immediately known who abducted Gilani or why.

Gilani's father served for roughly four years as prime minister but was forced out of office last summer by the Supreme Court after refusing to pursue a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Saturday's election marks a historic milestone for Pakistan as one civilian government completes its term and prepares to hand off to another.

But the race has been marred by a string of violent attacks against candidates and election events.

The Gilanis are a powerful family in Pakistan - and very rich. It would not be impossible for this to be a simple kidnapping for ransom.

But Islamists have been regularly attacking political rallies over the last several weeks. They want the government to establish sharia law and stop supporting the US in Afghanistan.  While the Islamist parties are expected to do well, the PPP will no doubt prevail - as it always does.

The increaes in violence, however, may continue after the election. This is not a good sign for the new government who already has security concerns in the Northwest Frontier Provinces. The Pakistan Taliban, who have claimed responsibility for many of the pre-election attacks, won't stand down after the election and has promised more suicide bombings in the future.



Former Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's son, Ali Haider Gilani, was kidnapped at a political rally in the volitile southern Punjab province when unknown attackers opened fire on his bodyguards and grabbed him:

He was attending an election event in the city of Multan on Thursday -- the last day of campaigning across Pakistan -- when gunmen pulled up, started shooting, grabbed and threw him into a vehicle and drove off, officials and witnesses said.

A resident of Multan who attended the rally told a local TV station that the attackers first pulled up in a car and motorcycle outside the venue where the younger Gilani was meeting with a few hundred supporters.

When he came out of the building, two gunmen opened fire, killing at least one of the people in Gilani's entourage.

"One of the gunmen grabbed Haider who had blood splashed on his trousers," said Shehryar Ali in comments aired by Pakistani television broadcaster Geo News.

The former prime minister was not at the event when his son was taken.

Speaking to reporters at the family's home in Multan, the elder Gilani appeared shaken but composed. He said two of his son's guards were killed in the attack, but he did not know whether his son was wounded.

"His two guards were shielding him, and they died," said the former premier in comments aired on Pakistani television. "I urge all of my party supporters to remain peaceful and participate in the vote."

It was not immediately known who abducted Gilani or why.

Gilani's father served for roughly four years as prime minister but was forced out of office last summer by the Supreme Court after refusing to pursue a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Saturday's election marks a historic milestone for Pakistan as one civilian government completes its term and prepares to hand off to another.

But the race has been marred by a string of violent attacks against candidates and election events.

The Gilanis are a powerful family in Pakistan - and very rich. It would not be impossible for this to be a simple kidnapping for ransom.

But Islamists have been regularly attacking political rallies over the last several weeks. They want the government to establish sharia law and stop supporting the US in Afghanistan.  While the Islamist parties are expected to do well, the PPP will no doubt prevail - as it always does.

The increaes in violence, however, may continue after the election. This is not a good sign for the new government who already has security concerns in the Northwest Frontier Provinces. The Pakistan Taliban, who have claimed responsibility for many of the pre-election attacks, won't stand down after the election and has promised more suicide bombings in the future.