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
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, 59, a senior member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and a staunch ally of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, was shot as he was leaving a constituency meeting surrounded by supporters in Punjab province.
An initial report on the shooting by a local administrator, the deputy commissioner of Narowal district, seen by Reuters, said the gunman had been arrested and “showed his affiliation” to Tehreek-e-Labaik.
The party calls for the aggressive enforcement of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which can carry the death penalty.
However, neither the report nor other officials commented on the attacker’s possible motives.
Iqbal was shot soon after addressing voters in Kanjroor village in Narowal, his constituency near the border with India, but the exact circumstances were not immediately clear.
“I can’t tell you the motive at this stage due to security reasons,” Narowal police chief Imran Kishwar told Reuters.