By Maxine Wally
A former Pakistani Prime Minister’s son was kidnapped Thursday, as attacks mount in lieu of the country’s upcoming elections.
Yusuf Raza Gilani, member of the Pakistan People’s Party, was headed for a small political gathering in the city of Multan, when his son, Ali Haider Gilani, was kidnapped by gunmen, according to Reuters.
His brother Musa, harrowed and outraged, appeared on a local television station in a short interview.
“If we don’t get my brother by this evening, I will not let the elections happen in my area,” he said.
Leader of the Pakistani Taliban Hakimulla Mehsud sent a letter to the party’s spokesperson detailing plans for suicide blasts and bombings at the polls in each of the country’s four provinces, scheduled for voting day, Saturday.
The Taliban have killed over 100 party workers and civilians since the beginning of April, attacking any political affiliates of secular-leaning parties that threaten the militant group. They have deigned the elections as “un-Islamic” and said they will carry out a series of attacks to cripple the elections in any way they can.
“We don’t accept the system of infidels which is called democracy,” Mehsud claimed in the letter dated May 1.
Taliban spokesperson Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters that they were not responsible for the kidnapping, despite details given in the aforementioned letter.
The Pakistani military said Thursday that it plans on sending out troops numbering in the ten thousands to polling centers, in efforts to prevent the Taliban from disturbing voters.
According to Major General Asim Bajwa, Pakistani Army spokesperson, 300,000 officials, including 32,000 troops, have been sent out to Punjab, the most heavily populated province.
An additional 96,000 security officers will be stationed in the northwest.
Bajwa told local newspapers that security agencies have been receiving multiple threats from the Taliban, but are still working to avoid more major catastrophes.
“They have reports, and obviously they have made a plan to counter that,” he said.
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