Pakistan's Interior Minister Is 'Out Of Danger' After Being Shot

Marsha Scott
May 8, 2018

Interior Minister and top PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal was wounded in an apparent assassination attack yesterday, ahead of nationwide elections due in July, bringing more volatility to an already charged atmosphere.

Iqbal, 59, was shot in the shoulder on Sunday after addressing the crowd gathered in his native Narowal district, Federal Minister Talal Chaudhry told local TV station Geo News.

Police are still investigating the attack, but local deputy commissioner Ali Anan Qamar told AFP that the shooter said he was inspired by a controversy previous year in which a small amendment to the oath that election candidates must swear had to be hastily reversed after it was linked to blasphemy.

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif - who also heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz - suspected a greater sinister behind the gory incident that follows a series of blows to the ruling party.

Shehbaz Sharif has reportedly sent his official helicopter to Narowal to airlift Iqbal to Lahore. Prime Minister sought immediate report from the Inspector General of Punjab Police on the matter.

They say the suspected gunman is believed to be affiliated with a recently formed, ultra-religious party. "We are interrogating him to find out whether he acted alone or at the behest of someone", he said.

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PTI's Azam Khan Swati strongly condemned attack on the interior minister saying, "I hope, Ahsan Iqbal will continue playing his role in strengthening democracy".

Pakistan's interior minister will be kept under observation at the hospital for 24 hours.

He was about to fire a second shot when he was apprehended, police said, adding that the weapon has been recovered. Considered the brains behind the party's development agenda, he previously headed up the planning ministry.

The party is calling for the aggressive enforcement of Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

Television footage showed a prone Iqbal being wheeled into the government-run hospital following the attack. However, the shoe-attacker was arrested and later freed after Iqbal pardoned him.

On the other hand, condemning the assassination attempt on the interior minister, Senator Lieutenant General (r) Abdul Qayyum said the reasons behind the incident should be analysed in depth in order to formulate an effective strategy to counter extremism in Pakistan.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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