A suspect who was arrested for the assassination attempt on Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday evening has a declared affiliation with the Tehreek-i-Labbaik, it emerged late last night.
Iqbal, 59, a senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, was hit by a bullet on his right shoulder in the attack yesterday after he addressed an election rally in his constituency Narowal.
A local official told AFP that the shooter said he was inspired by a controversy a year ago in which a small amendment to the oath election candidates must swear had to be hastily reversed after it was linked to blasphemy, a highly inflammatory charge in the deeply conservative Muslim country.
Police arrested a suspect with a pistol that they identified as 21-year-old Abid Hussain.
After being rushed to a nearby hospital, Iqbal was taken by helicopter to Lahore, capital of Punjab.
"The prime minister has called for an immediate report into the incident from IG Police Punjab".
She prayed for speedy recovery of Ahsan Iqbal and said "We hope to see him back in parliament soon".
"Describing the assault an "assassination attempt", CM Shehbaz Sharif said, "[He] just spoke to him [Ahsan] and he is in high spirits".
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A senior police officer told The Express Tribune that the accused had targeted PML-N leader as an act of reprisal for his alleged role in amending Namoos-e-Risalat clause in the election bill.
"He's stable. he's ok", said a hospital official, who asked not to be named. He is also the head of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms.
The party is calling for the aggressive enforcement of Pakistan's blasphemy laws.
Statements of condemnation have been pouring out from all the politicians of the country, rival and ally alike.
Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto and other Pakistan Peoples Party leaders also condemned the attack, as did Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan.
On the other hand, condemning the assassination attempt on the interior minister, Senator Lieutenant General (r) Abdul Qayyum said the reasons behind the incident should be analysed in depth in order to formulate an effective strategy to counter extremism in Pakistan.
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa condemned the attack.
Iqbal was once seen as a potential prime minister when Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court previous year.