Pak's Interior Minister shot at public rally

Enemies sponsoring terrorist activities to sabotage CPEC Ahsan

Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was wounded on Sunday in an apparent assassination attempt by a gunman linked to a new ultra-religious Muslim party - an incident likely to raise tensions before an election expected in late July.

Azam Khan Swati also condemned the attack on the interior minister and said, "I hope Ahsan Iqbal would continue playing his role in strengthening democracy in Pakistan". Confirming the incident, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Tallal Chaudhry said Iqbal was out of danger.

The gunmen told police that he attempted to assassinate the minister because he was among the ruling party's members who changed a religious law previous year.

Iqbal was rushed to a local hospital for surgery and then transferred by helicopter to the Services Institute hospital in Lahore.

Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer was gunned down in 2011 by his own police guard who confessed that he killed him because of his opposition to the blasphemy law. "We are interrogating him to find out whether he acted alone or at the behest of someone", he said.

Pakistan's interior minister will be kept under observation at the hospital for 24 hours.

A man identified by police as Hussain, said to be in his early 20s, was wrestled to the ground by officers and bystanders as he was preparing to fire a second shot.

The attack comes at a time when the ruling party PML-N faces several challenges after the courts disqualified Nawaz Sharif and former Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif from holding any public office for life; the country's top accountability watchdog has also launched investigations in corruption cases against several other ruling party leaders.

Late a year ago, some changes were made to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat declaration required of prospective lawmakers under new laws drafted by the ruling PML-N in consultation with opposition parties.

Senator Sitara Ayaz strongly condemned assassination attempt on Interior Minister and said that National Action Plan should be implemented in true letter and spirit.

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

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran condemned the attack. However, the shoe-attacker was arrested and later freed after Iqbal pardoned him.



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