- Interior minister in stable condition after receiving a bullet in left arm in Narowal
- Police arrest accused ‘affiliated with Tehreek-e-Labbaik’; however, TLP chief denies involvement, demands ‘fair probe’
- President, PM, army chief, US ambassador, politicians condemn incident
NAROWAL: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday was attacked and injured after an assailant opened fire at him during a corner meeting of the party in Narowal’s Kanjroor area.
According to the media reports, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader was attacked when he was leaving after the corner meeting held at MPA Rana Manan’s residence.
In the first major incident of violence before 2018 elections, the initial medical reports suggested that a single bullet hit the interior minister in the right arm and entered his abdomen, soon after which he was rushed to Narowal’s District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) amid tight security.
Although a Punjab government spokesperson said that the interior minister was not in critical conditional, Iqbal was soon transported from Narowal to Lahore’s Services Hospital via a helicopter where Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif arrived to overview the arrangements for the minister’s treatment.
Reportedly, the entry of the general public was temporarily banned in the hospital where a panel of senior doctors treated him and removed the bullet from his abdomen.
According to the initial reports, the police arrested the assailant, Abid, 21, who is said to be a resident of Narowal’s Viram area.
Later, Narowal District Commissioner (DC) Ali Anan submitted the initial report to the Punjab chief secretary in which it was stated that the assailant took advantage of the crowd and fired from a 30 bore pistol after which he was immediately restrained by the Elite force.
The report said that the accused revealed his affiliation with Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
The Narowal DC further stated in the report that the suspect was arrested along with the weapon that he used to attack the minister. Further, the motorcycle belonging to the accused was also taken into custody by the police. “Police is further investigating the matter,” the report concluded.
Later, Iqbal himself released a statement to the media in which he said that he had talked to the doctors and had been assured that there was nothing to worry about. “The prayers of the entire nation and my family members are with me,” he said.
Ahsan Iqbal released a statement to the media in which he said that he has talked to the doctors and they have assured that there is nothing to worry about his health. “The entire nation’s and my family members’ prayers are with me,” he said.
He also tweeted from his account saying that Allah has been very kind, and further requested the wellwishers to remember him in their prayers.
Allah Almighty hs been very kind. We request all friends and wellwishers to remember him their special prayers. — at Services Institute Of Medical Sciences https://t.co/2oEcY6uATa
— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) May 6, 2018
According to police, they have arrested the assailant, Abid, 21, a resident of Shakargarh’s Veram area, and have launched an investigation. Initial reports claim that the accused was born on May 13, 1995, and has been to Dubai in the past.
INITIAL INVESTIGATION REPORT RELEASED:
Narowal District Commissioner (DC) Ali Anan submitted the initial investigation report to the Punjab chief secretary in which it was stated that the assailant took advantage of the crowd and fired from a 30 bore pistol after which he was immediately restrained by the Elite force from further attacking.
The report said that the accused revealed his affiliation with Tehreek-e-Labbaik.
The DC further stated in the report that the suspect was arrested along the weapon and motorcycle belonging to him. However, the report said that the police is further investigating the matter.
TLP CONDEMNS ATTACK:
Reacting to the allegations, TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi condemned the attack on Iqbal.
Other TLP leaders also condemned the attack. They said that any conspiracies against TLP would not be tolerated and demanded a fair probe of the attack.
POLITICAL LEADERS CONDEMN ATTACK:
President Mamnoon Hussain responded to the unfortunate incident and strongly condemned the attack on the interior minister.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while condemning the attack, asked Punjab inspector general of police (IGP) to submit a report of the incident.
The Punjab chief minister also condemned the attack and ordered an inquiry into the incident. He said that he would personally monitor the investigation of the assassination attempt.
National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq and Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed also condemned the assassination attempt on Interior Minister Iqbal.
They called the incident an attack on the entire state and not only on the interior minister. They further said that the incident should be investigated and those responsible should be brought to the book.
Disqualified former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif also condemned the attacked and offered his unflinching support to the interior minister.
Ambassador of the United States to Pakistan David Hale condemned the attack on Iqbal. “The United States condemns the attack on Interior Minister Iqbal. We wish him a speedy recovery,” the ambassador said in a statement.
Key political figures, including those from opposition parties, also condemned the attack on the interior minister.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan tweeted immediately after the incident and condemned the attack.
Strongly condemn attack on Ahsan Iqbal today.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 6, 2018
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, Opposition Leader and Khursheed Shah and Punjab President Qamar-u-Zaman Qaira also condemned the incident.
— PPP (@MediaCellPPP) May 6, 2018
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa also condemned the attacked and prayed for the speedy recovery of the interior minister, an Inter-Services Public Relations statement said.
COAS condemns firing on Federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal. Expresses best wishes for early recovery.
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) May 6, 2018
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) President and former prime minister Chaudhary Shujat Hussain and senior central leader and former deputy prime minister Chaudhary Parvez Elahi also condemned firing on the Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal in the strongest words and said that the culprits be apprehended at the earliest and given exemplary punishment.
In show of solidarity, Ahsan Iqbal’s political rival in Narowal and singer-cum-PTI leader Abrar-ul-Haq expressed his condemnation in a tweet while offering Iqbal treatment at his Sahara Trust Hospital.
I strongly condemn the attack on Ahsan Iqbal and thanks to Allah swt that he is out of danger … Ahsan Sb you are more than welcome to use international facilities available at Sahara hospital where our professor doctors will take care of you . Get well soon
— Abrar Ul Haq (@AbrarUlHaqPK) May 6, 2018
According to the media reports, Ahsan Iqbal was informed five days ago by intelligence agencies about a possible attempt on his life.
Earlier in February this year, a shoe was hurled at the interior minister while he was addressing workers in Narowal.
Numerous key political figures have been assassinated in such attacks including, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman and twice prime minister Benazir Bhutto, Punjab governor Salman Taseer, former Punjab home minister Shuja Khanzada and others.