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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid