Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has condemned the kidnapping of former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s son as a “reprehensible act of a cowardly enemy.”
Gunmen attacked an election rally on May 9 in Multan and abducted Ali Haider Gilani, a provincial assembly candidate in the May 11 general elections. He is a member of the progressive, center-left Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
Gilani’s bodyguard was killed and five other people were wounded during the attack.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the shootings and kidnapping.
Zardari said in a written statement that “progressive democratic parties” have expressed serious apprehensions about militants’ threats.
The president said they have called upon the Election Commission and the government to take “appropriate measures” that prevent extremists from hijacking the elections.
Meanwhile, the kidnapped candidate’s older brother, Musa Gilani, said he would try to stop voting in the Multan area if his brother is not recovered before midnight.
"If we don't get my brother Haider Gilani by this evening I will not let the election happen in my area," he said. "I cannot go ahead distributing polling bags if my brother is not here."
May 9 is the last day of campaigning in an election that has been marred in recent weeks by daily attacks against candidates or political party offices.
More than 100 people have been killed in bomb attacks during the past month. Pakistan’s Taliban says it is targeting what it calls “secular parties” in the run-up to the vote.
RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal reports there were five such attacks across Pakistan overnight.
In the Buner district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, gunmen injured two people when they fired at brothers of the former provincial education minister, Sardar Hussain Babak. He is a candidate of the Awami National Party (ANP), which advocates secularism.
In the Bajaur tribal area, two people were killed on May 8 when a bomb exploded near a political gathering at the house of ANP leader Al Manan.
Police in Peshawar told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal that two bombers detonated their explosives and killed themselves after shooting at a police van.
In the city of Quetta, 14 people were wounded when armed men threw hand grenades at a hotel.
In Karachi, a bomb exploded at the offices of the liberal Muttahida Quami Movement. Nobody was killed in that attack.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal