Police reveal political affiliation of man who shot Ahsan Iqbal

Source:  ARY News Published in Current Affairs on Monday, May 07, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The man believed to have shot Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday was affiliated to the new ultra-religious Tehreek-e-Labaik party, according to a police report.

Reuters, whose correspondent saw the police report, said the shooter was Abid Hussain, 21, who “showed his affiliation” to the party, which focuses on highlighting and fighting blasphemy. The report did not speculate on his motive.

Labaik’s leader, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, condemned the attack in a statement and said his party had not authorized any of its workers to take up arms.

Violence has been a feature of pre-election periods in Pakistan over the past decade, mainly due to assassinations of political figures, including former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.

Iqbal, 59, a senior member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and a staunch ally of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, was shot as he was leaving a constituency meeting surrounded by supporters in Punjab province.

The party calls for the aggressive enforcement of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which can carry the death penalty. However, neither the report nor other officials commented on the attacker’s possible motives.

Iqbal was shot soon after addressing voters in Kanjroor village in Narowal, his constituency near the border with India, but the exact circumstances were not immediately clear.

Police said the bullet had hit Iqbal in the right arm and gone into his groin. They named the suspected shooter as Abid Hussain, 21, and said they had found him carrying a pistol.

After being rushed to a nearby hospital, Iqbal was taken by helicopter to Lahore, capital of Punjab.

“The minister luckily survived,” said minister Talal Chaudhry. “Thank God, he is out of danger.”

Blasphemy is a deeply emotional and politically charged issue in Pakistan, even more so since Labaik has emerged in the past year.