The youngest son of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Ali Haider Gilani, was kidnapped after an attack on a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) gathering in Multan on Thursday.
Unidentified gunmen came in two cars and opened fire at the political gathering taking place in Farrukh Town which lies in the PP-200 constituency. Ali Haider was contesting on the PP-200 seat against Shaukat Bosan of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N).
Reports started to flood in, hours after the incident, stating that the kidnappers along with Gillani were present in the Kabirwala area, in district Khanewal.
Khanewal is reportedly a hiding spot for banned organisations like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).
Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari ordered the ECP, government and investigative agencies to ensure peaceful elections and recover former PM’s son, president’s spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said.
The sources revealed that kidnappers disposed of Ali Haider Gillani’s mobile phone, which was the only device that could be used to track down their location.
A member of the kidnappers was reportedly caught by private guards and handed over to the police but the authorities are not disclosing this yet. He provided some sensitive information.
Ali Haider’s personal secretary, Muhammad Muhiuddin, died on the spot after the firing incident, while eight others sustained injuries. Another injured person succumbed to his wounds at Nishtar Hospital.
Eyewitnesses told The Express Tribune that a bullet had also hit Ali Haider as he was bleeding when the kidnappers dragged him into a car.
They added that the kidnappers came on two cars and two motorcycles and were around 16 in number. They all had long beards, the eyewitnesses further said.
Ali Haider’s brother Ali Musa Gilani, speaking to the media, said that PPP will not let elections take place in any constituency of Multan if Ali Haider is not traced and recovered till tonight.
Musa added that his party members were not carrying weapons nor keeping any guards as per Election Commission of Pakistan’s code of conduct. “There was no security, no weapons. They [gunmen] came and easily took him [Ali Haider] away.”
Abdul Qadir Gilani, the former PM’s eldest son, also shared the same opinion and said that his party has been deprived of all security measures besides direct threats from the Taliban.
Yousaf Raza Gilani urged all PPP supporters to remain silent and to pray for his son’s recovery. “Everything will happen according to the law,” he said.
Police officials told The Express Tribune that the target of the attack was Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was also present at the meeting. The gunmen kidnapped his son on being unable to kill the former prime minister.
Another police officer, Ghulam Mohammad Dogar confirmed the abduction. “It is definitely an act of terrorists,” he told reporters.
Police sealed all entry and exit points of the city after the incident, and the Inspector General (IG) of Punjab Police summoned a report from the RPO Multan.
Protests by PPP supporters erupted across the city after the incident.
Yousaf Raza Gilani had informed the district administration and the government of Pakistan of receiving death and kidnapping threats from the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had cancelled all major political gatherings due to be held today across the country ahead of the general elections.
The TTP had threatened to attack the PPP, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP), terming them ‘secular’. Several attacks on these parties have been reported ahead of the elections, which have been claimed by the TTP.