Lahore: With just a day to go for elections in Pakistan, former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's son Ali Haider was abducted by a Taliban group in Punjab province. The news has shaken Pakistan.
But As Taliban militants took away Gilani's son in the final hours of campaigning on Thursday, it was only the latest in a series of attacks on the election process. In the past month, more than 100 people have been killed in bomb attacks on election rallies, and several candidates and family members have died.
On a door to door campaign in Lahore, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Bushra Aitzaz says it isn't safe to hold rallies or run a visible campaign in most parts of Pakistan. "We can't have rallies. We can't even hold street-corner meetings anymore. They have announced they will attack PPP MQM ANP.. ," she said.
The Pakistani Taliban's threat has now become the election's biggest wildcard. After a taped message from the TTPs spokesperson last month brazenly vowed attacks on the ruling coalition, telling their supporters and voters to stay away from the electoral process.
Pakistan's caretaker government says more than six lakh security personnel will be out guarding the country, with an extra 70,000 pressed in for election duty. But that isn't enough to even secure Pakistan's most powerful, and Chairperson of the PPP Bilawal Bhutto addressed his party's final campaign rally via video link.
With MQM and ANP leaders also staying away from rallies, the question, will their supporters also remain at home. And has the Taliban already derailed Pakistan's historic election?