Former Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani’s son Ali Haider Gilani was kidnapped from a poll-related meeting in Multan on Thursday by gunmen who killed his personal assistant and injured four.

There was no word on his whereabouts till late at night though some reports said he had been taken to Kabirwala area in Khanewal district. Mr. Ali Haider was a candidate for the provincial assembly elections from Multan.

Eyewitness accounts said Mr. Ali Haider appeared to have been injured in gunfire. No organisation claimed responsibility for the attack. Police have sealed all exit and entry points to Multan and launched a massive search operation for Mr. Ali Haider.

Though Mr. Ali Haider’s anguished and enraged brother Ali Musa Gilani — who is also contesting the polls — said he would not allow elections to be held in Multan if his brother was not returned by tonight, their father urged agitated workers of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) not to derail the democratic process.

President Asif Ali Zadari spoke to Mr. Yusuf Raza Gilani and ordered steps to rescue the younger Gilani. The President said progressive democratic parties had already expressed their serious apprehensions about the militants’ threats and urged the Election Commission to ensure that the polls were not hijacked by extremists.

More violence is expected as Reuters reported that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan commander Hakimullah Mehsud had instructed his militants to carry out suicide attacks on Saturday when the country goes to the polls. Diplomatic missions have also been alerted and people were stocking up supplies in anticipation of trouble.