Assassination attempt on Pakistani minister

Pakistan interior minister shot, wounded in suspected assassination bid

A gunman on Sunday shot and injured Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal while he was visiting his constituency in the north-eastern city of Narowal.

Police are still investigating the attack, but local deputy commissioner Ali Anan Qamar told AFP that the shooter said he was inspired by a controversy previous year in which a small amendment to the oath that election candidates must swear had to be hastily reversed after it was linked to blasphemy.

Iqbal was rushed to a nearby hospital and later airlifted to a hospital in the provincial capital Lahore where he underwent two surgeries.

Narowal senior police officer Imran Kishwar said the suspect did not get a second chance to open fire on Iqbal.

The suspect, Abid Hussain, who was caught by police immediately after the first shot, reportedly confessed to the crime, saying he had bought the weapon used in the incident from a local after scraping together Rs15,000. "We know the motive of this attack but this is a very risky game being played against the PML-N", Information Minister Marrium Aurengzeb said.

Pakistan's Interior Minister was recovering in hospital on Monday after surviving a shooting possibly linked to blasphemy accusations.

The party calls for the aggressive enforcement of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which can carry the death penalty.

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Opposition leader Sherry Rehman strongly condemned the attack and said the whole nation was united to eliminate extremism and terrorism from the country.

A prominent member of the governing party, which is known by its acronym PML-N, said the attack had deepened concerns about the "safety and security" of Sharif.

Statements of condemnation have been pouring out from all the politicians of the country, rival and ally alike.

Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah also condemned the assassination attempt on Iqbal.

Both the party's leader and Pakistan's prime minister have condemned the attack, which comes just months ahead of an expected election.

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

Iqbal was once seen as a potential prime minister when Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court a year ago.

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