News / Asia

    Pakistan's Ex-PM's Son Kidnapped as Taliban Threatens Election

    Pakistani paramilitary soldiers stand guard on a street ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections, in Karachi on May 9, 2013.
    Pakistani paramilitary soldiers stand guard on a street ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections, in Karachi on May 9, 2013.
    Reuters
    Gunmen kidnapped the son of a former Pakistani prime minister on Thursday as fears of election violence were raised by a letter from the leader of the Pakistani Taliban revealing plans for suicide bomb attacks on polling day to undermine the vote.

    Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, in a message to the group's spokesman, outlined plans for attacks, including suicide blasts, in all four of the country's provinces.

    "We don't accept the system of infidels which is called democracy,'' Mehsud said in the letter, dated May 1, and obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

    Since April, the al-Qaida-linked Pakistani Taliban have killed more than 100 people in attacks on candidates and rallies, particularly those of secular-leaning parties, in a bid to undermine elections they regard as un-Islamic.

    The attacks have prevented candidates from the three main parties in the ruling coalition from holding big rallies. Instead, they have relied on door-to-door campaigning or small meetings in homes or on street corners.

    Pakistan's former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani waves after arriving at the Supreme Court in Islamabad, April 26, 2012.Pakistan's former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani waves after arriving at the Supreme Court in Islamabad, April 26, 2012.
    x
    Pakistan's former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani waves after arriving at the Supreme Court in Islamabad, April 26, 2012.
    Pakistan's former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani waves after arriving at the Supreme Court in Islamabad, April 26, 2012.
    Gunmen kidnapped the son of Yusuf Raza Gilani, former prime minister and stalwart of the outgoing Pakistan People's Party (PPP), as he was headed to a small political gathering In the central city of Multan, police said.

    Ali Haider Gilani's secretary and guard were shot dead in the attack.

    Militants spare main opposition party

    The Pakistani Taliban have not attacked the main opposition party led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which has courted support from groups accused of supporting militancy.

    Sharif, who is seen as favorite to become the next prime minister, says Pakistan should reconsider its support for the U.S. war on Islamist militancy and suggests he would be in favour of negotiations with the Taliban.

     Nor have the Taliban attacked former cricketer Imran Khan's party, which advocates shooting down U.S. drones and withdrawing the Pakistani military from insurgency-infested ethnic Pashtun areas along the Afghan border.

    The letter from Mehsud is bound to raise fears of attacks during the historic vote.

    Pakistan's military said on Thursday it would send tens of thousands of troops to polling stations and counting centres to prevent the Taliban from disrupting the election.

    The polls, already Pakistan's most violent, marks the first time that a civilian government will complete a full term and hand over to another administration.

    • Paramilitary soldiers stand guard along a road outside of the district city court in Karachi, Pakistan, May 10, 2013.
    • Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses his supporters during an election campaign rally, in Lahore, Pakistan, May 9, 2013.
    • Supporters of Pakistan's People's party chant slogans during a rally in Karachi, Pakistan, May 9, 2013.
    • A vendor talks to a customer as others chat at a stall next to posters of various candidates for the upcoming election pasted on a wall in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, May 8, 2013.
    • Supporters of Pakistan Muslim League, headed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose election symbol is a lion, rally in Islamabad, May 8, 2013.
    • Supporters of Tehreek-e-Insaf, headed by Pakistan's cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan, sit in a make-shift election office in the Jalozai camp in Peshawar, Pakistan, May 8, 2013.
    • Christian supporters of Imran Khan, Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician and chairman of political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, hold placards as they light candles next to a portrait of Khan in Lahore, Pakistan, May 8, 2013.
    • Election workers prepare ballot boxes at an election commission office in Quetta, Pakistan, May 8, 2013.
    • Officials from the Election Commission of Pakistan prepare sacks of stationery materials, before they are transported to polling offices, in the premises of the district city court in Karachi, May 8, 2013.
    • Supporters of Pakistan's religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami hang campaign banners in the Jalozai camp in Peshawar, Pakistan, May 8, 2013.
    • A rickshaw is decorated with campaign posters for candidates in the upcoming election in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, May 8, 2013.

    The Taliban are blamed for many of the suicide bombings across Pakistan, a nuclear-armed strategic ally.

    Army spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said 300,000 security officials, including 32,000 troops, had been deployed in Punjab, the most populous province.

    "Definitely they have reports and obviously they have made a plan to counter that,'' newspapers quoted him as saying, referring to security agencies getting threats of violence from the Taliban.

    Another 96,000 security forces would be deployed in the northwest of Pakistan, where the Taliban operate from strongholds.

    Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) has capitalised on widespread frustrations with the outgoing government led by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

    The military has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 66-year history, either through coups or from behind the scenes.

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.