Pakistan ruling party MP kidnapped: police

LAHORE (AFP) - A provincial lawmaker from Pakistan's ruling party has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom, police said Saturday.

Rana Jameel Hassan of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N party was kidnapped on a motorway near the eastern town of Sargodha early Saturday as he returned from a funeral with his wife, police and relatives said.

"The kidnappers followed him in a car and took him away leaving his wife behind at Rawalpindi and asked her to arrange about 300,000 dollars (ransom money) in three days," the lawmaker's brother Rana Wakeel Hassan told AFP.

Senior police official Ahmed Ishaq Jehangir confirmed the kidnapping and said that police had begun an investigation.

A family source quoted the wife of the kidnapped MP as saying that when kidnappers followed them her husband sped away, but the abductors rammed their car to stop them.

She said that the armed men, who spoke the Pashto language of northwestern Pakistan, had blindfolded the pair, before dropping her near the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

The chief minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, who is also the younger brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has ordered the police to immediately recover Hassan.

The MP represents the eastern Nankana Sahib district in Punjab provincial assembly.

Islamist militants have in the past used hostages as bargaining chips to try to obtain the release of Taliban prisoners and also for ransom.

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