Pakistan Interior Minister shot at, injured at political rally

Pakistan's interior minister survives assassination attempt during political rally, shifted to Lahore for treatment

The assailant who attempted to take life of Ahsan Iqbal stated that he was an easy target for assassination.

His appearance came one day after Ahsan Iqbal, 59, was shot in the right arm as he prepared to leave a public meeting in his constituency in Punjab late Sunday (May 6).

According to the medical superintendent, doctors had decided not to remove the bullet from Iqbal's body as the procedure could create some complications.

Opposition leader Sherry Rehman strongly condemned the attack and said the whole nation wanted to see an end to extremism and terrorism in the country.

According to police, the suspected gunman was identified as 22-year-old Abid Hussain; he remains under arrest and was shifted to an unknown location for police interrogation.

The Station House Officer of the Shah Gharib Police Station has been suspended for providing inadequate security arrangements to the interior minister, Geo TV reported.

The amendment was hastily reversed in 2017 after it was deemed by the previously little-known Islamist group to be blasphemous.

At the time many Pakistanis and analysts warned that a unsafe precedent had been set in which fringe groups could bend the state to their will by citing blasphemy.

Police said Hussain had made a confessional statement saying "he acted alone because his religious sentiments were hurt by the PML-N governments decision".

"The attacker was around 15 yard away from the interior minister when he opened fired on him but luckily the party workers and police quickly grabbed him otherwise he could have fired more bullets", police official Shahid Lateef told Anadolu Agency via phone.

The polls are set to be only the second ever democratic transition in the country, and are widely expected to be held late this summer.

"Political differences notwithstanding, physical targeting of any politician is simply not acceptable", Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Shireen Mazari said in her tweet.

Similarly, ousted prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and former foreign minister Khwaja Asif also faced shoe and ink attacks in Lahore and Sialkot, a couple of months ago.

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