Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal talks to media outside the accountability court, in Islamabad in this October 2, 2017 file photo.
Islamabad: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was shot and wounded in an assassination attack on Sunday in Punjab’s Narowal town.
Police said Iqbal was hit by two bullets, one on his left shoulder and second penetrated in the lower part of the abdomen, according to latest reports.. His condition is reported to be “out of danger” now.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader was shot as he concluded the party’s street corner meeting yesterday evening.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that he had spoken to the interior minister who “is in high spirits”. Sharif vowed in a tweet that: “Those who indulged in this heinous act will be brought to justice. PML-N will not be browbeaten into submission.”
Ahsan Iqbal was initially shifted to District Headquarters Hospital Narowal but would be airlifted in a helicopter to Lahore where he will receive further medical treatment, his son Ahmad told media.
Shooter in custody
The suspected shooter, identified as 21-year-old Abid Hussain, has been taken into custody, according to District Police Officer (DPO) Imran Kishwar. He shot at Iqbal with a 30-bore pistol from a distance of 20 yards.
The clean-shaved attacker is reported to be linked with religious fundamentalism. A local TV channel ARY News claimed that the “assailant has confessed that he attacked the minister over PML-N’s policy on alleged attempt to amend Khatam-e-Nabuwat clauses.”
The attack occurred at a corner meeting which are widely attended before elections to provide an opportunity for politicians to interact with their supporters and citizens.
The attack on interior minister took place at a time when ruling PML-N is struggling to regain its strength before general elections particularly in Punjab when several of its leaders have been disqualified from taking part in election.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi strongly condemned the assassination bid and called for an immediate report into the incident from IG Police Punjab.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa condemned the shooting on interior minister Ahsan Iqbal and conveyed best wishes for early recovery.
Praying for his health, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he “strongly condemn the assassination attempt” on Iqbal and added that “those who indulged in this heinous act will be brought to justice.”
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran expressed sorrow on the unfortunate attack on Ahsan Iqbal. PTI senior leader Shireen Mazari said in a tweet: “Political differences notwithstanding, physical targeting of any politician is simply not acceptable. Sadly, intolerance and violence are becoming endemic in our society.”
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto, co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and other PPP leaders also condemned the attack. “We have to put a stop to such incidents” Billawal said.