Iqbal gets shot, survives assassination attempt

By Zeeshan Ghayur
Monday – May 7, 2018
LAHORE: A suspected Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) extremist shot a bullet from close range, approximately from 15 yards away, at interior minister Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday in Narowal, targeting him from his right the bullet brushed off his right arm ending up hitting his stomach, Iqbal’s security quickly rushed him to the district headquarters (DHQ) hospital.

According to details, the assailant identified as Abid Hussain, 21-year-old, is reportedly a resident of Iqbal’s hometown Narowal and presumably wanted to take vengeance against the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), using a 30-bore pistol, on the recent attempt to delete the clause of “seal of the prophets” from the constitution.

As Iqbal was about to depart from his corner political rally in tehsil Kanjrur, Hussain infiltrated the few PML-N supporters and bystanders busy in shaking hands turn by turn with Iqbal as he was about to board his car, Hussain quickly took a shot at him. The bystanders swiftly overpowered Hussain and refrained him from shooting another bullet.

Police arrested Hussain on the spot, confiscating the weapon used, and rushed him to an undisclosed location for interrogation. Further interrogation is underway to determine if Hussain acted alone or at the behest of TLP.

The incident took place despite that Iqbal, 59-year-old, had been warned off by the intelligence agencies that an attempt on his life is possible, the security of interior minister had since been beefed-up.

Although Iqbal was provided with medical treatment at Narowal DHQ the Punjab chief minister (CM) Shehbaz Sharif rushed a helicopter to Narowal, whereat it picked the interior minister and flew him to Lahore’s services institute of medical sciences (SIMS) hospital for undergoing at least two major operations/surgeries for the removal of bullet from lower part of his stomach and to treat his fragmented arm bone.

At SIMS as Iqbal was boarded off the helicopter to an ambulance which speeded him to the operation theatre entrance, Sharif received the wounded interior minister and later tweeted, “Strongly condemn the assassination attempt on my friend Ahsan Iqbal” revealing “Just spoke to him and he is in high spirits” warning “Those who indulged in this heinous act will be brought to justice” adding “PML-N will not be browbeaten into submission” requesting “Prayers for quick recovery.”

The attack took place close to the residence of, PML-N member of provincial assembly (MPA), Rana Mannan hailing from PP-134 (Narowal-III), Mannan was present at the site of the incident and assisted in Iqbal’s quick retreat.

Ahmed Iqbal, son of wounded interior minister, asked newsmen to request the nation for offering prayers for his injured father. He informed the nation that his father is thankfully out of danger.

A few months ago a shoe was hurled at Iqbal in Narowal, there too the culprit was quickly arrested but was later released as Iqbal had pardoned him, then too the reason was the attempt by the incumbent regime to alter the “seal of the prophets” clause and the blasphemy law from the constitution.

Defence minister Khurram Dastgir condemned the incident and noted, “I also condemn the many hate-filled political rallies that have been occurring ever since 2014” lashing “They are responsible for having given birth to the hate-filled society today that has led to this condemnable incident” culminating “We got to win the elections from ballot and not bullet.”

Chief of army staff (COAS) general Qamar Javed Bajwa condemned the firing on Iqbal and expressed best wishes for early recovery.