Pakistan Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was shot at during a meeting in Narowal district’s Kanjrur tehsil on Sunday evening. The police took the suspected shooter, identified as Abid Hussain, into custody, The Express Tribune reported.
The minister is said to be out of danger, according to Dawn. Iqbal was attending a corner meeting of his party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), when he was attacked. He was airlifted from Narowal and taken to Services Hospital in Lahore for treatment.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif described the attack as an assassination attempt. “Just spoke to him [Iqbal] and he is in high spirits,” Sharif said. “Those who indulged in this heinous act will be brought to justice,” Sharif tweeted. “PML-N will not be browbeaten into submission. I am personally overseeing the investigation.”
Narowal District Police Officer Imran Kishwar said that the assailant shot the minister with a pistol from a distance of 20 yards. The bullet entered Iqbal’s right shoulder, Kishwar said.
The Punjab province government tweeted that “one of the shooters” is being interrogated by the police, and that Sharif had sought a report from the province’s inspector general of police. However, it is not known whether there was more than one assailant.
Iqbal later tweeted thanking God that he had survived the attack. “Allah Almighty has been very kind. We request all friends and well wishers to remember him their special prayers – at Services Institute Of Medical Sciences,” he said.
Leading Pakistani politicians condemned the shooting. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said Punjab province police chief Arif Nawaz Khan should immediately submit a report on the incident.
“Religious, ethnic, and political divide and oppositions are used for personal and sectarian interest,” Former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif said in a tweet. “No one will remain spared from this hatred. This menace of hatred will destroy everything.”
The Opposition Pakistan People’s Party co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari said the country had to “put a stop to such incidents”, Dawn reported.
“Political differences notwithstanding, physical targeting of any politician is simply not acceptable,” Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Shireen Mazari said in her tweet. “Sadly, intolerance and violence are becoming endemic in our society.”