Ali Haider Gilani was addressing a crowd of supporters in the eastern Pakistani city of Multan when gunfire rained down on the crowd and a group of unidentified men on motorbikes sped up to the rally and kidnapped him. Three suspected militants pushed Gilani into a car and drove away in the latest incident of the most violent election cycle in Pakistan's history.
Gilani's security guard and secretary were killed, and eight others were injured.
Gilani is the son of former Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and was speaking to a crowd of People’s Party of Pakistan supporters. The PPP is a secular party that has been repeatedly targeted by the Taliban.
“When he finished the meeting, he go outside. Some people came on motorcycle and straight away they start the firing, and one guard is killed at the movement, and his private secretary is injured at the movement, and there are total of three people and they pulled out to Haider Gilani into the car and they go out,” described PPP official Aamir Dogar to the press.
Gilani is running for Multan's provincial seat in the Pakistani assembly in militant groups, such as the Sunni extremist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and other pro-Taliban organizations, are known to operate. Militants in Pakistan have targeted all parties, including religious and extremist ones, during the cycle amidst an unprecedented fervor among voters for change.
Gilani's brother, Ali Musa Gilani spoke to the media and threatened that the PPP would not allow elections to proceed in any constituency of Multan unless Gilani is returned safely tonight.
Pakistan's current President Asif Ali Zardari called the kidnapping a "reprehensible act of a cowardly enemy" and reiterated the need for the elections to proceed uninhibited by extremist elements.
The election is still scheduled to be held on May 11 and candidates have been holding their final rallies.