MULTAN, May 9: In a stunning development, Ali Haider Gilani, a son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and a candidate for the Punjab Assembly, was kidnapped by gunmen here on Thursday. His two associates were killed in the process.

When Ali Haider Gilani was leaving after attending a street corner meeting outside the house of a supporter at Matti Tal Road in Farrukh Town, a hail of gunfire resounded across the area.

An eyewitness told Dawn that the assailants asked people attending the meeting to stay indoors, bundled Mr Gilani into a black car and fired in the air. He said seven to eight gunmen had taken position outside the house, two others held Mr Gilani and three stayed in the car.

Hafiz Bilal, another eyewitness, said he saw two men dragging Mr Gilani. When his secretary Ghulam Muhyuddin tried to rescue Mr Gilani, the gunmen beat him up with butts of their rifles before shooting him dead.

Mr Bilal said he was not familiar with the weapons the attackers were carrying. “They carried long rifles I had seen in only English movies,” he said.

Muhyuddin died on the spot, while two people — Qaswar Abbas and Ramzan — were injured. Ramzan succumbed to his wounds in the Nishtar Hospital.

Police cordoned off the area and blocked all exit points of the city.

Supporters of Ali Haider Gilani, who is contesting for PP-200, and PPP workers protested against the incident and blocked Bosan Road by burning tyres.

Talking to newsmen, Ali Musa Gilani, a brother of Haider Gilani, warned that if his brother was not recovered by Thursday night, they would not allow elections to be held in the area.

He said security was not provided to his brother and the government had withdrawn guards.

Abdul Qadir Gilani, another son of Yousuf Raza Gilani, said his brother was kidnapped because “we followed the code of conduct of the Election Commission of Pakistan”.

Later, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters that “we do not want any delay in the elections at all”.

“We do not believe in violence and will take part in the elections. Democracy is the best revenge and we will not allow derailment of democracy,” he said.

He said security agencies had been working for the recovery of his son.

Mr Gilani said he had received phone calls from President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, ANP president Asfandyar Wali, MQM leader Altaf Hussain, PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Dr Tahirul Qadri, Sikandar Bosan, IG Police and the FIA director.

SP Investigations Wazir Khan told Dawn that the Gilani family had so far not lodged an FIR. If the Gilani family did not do so, police would become the complainant and would register the FIR, he said.

He said no group had so far claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but the investigation was in progress.

City Police Officer Ghulam Mohammad Dogar said it was an act of terrorism.

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