Pakistan Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal Shot, Wounded In Narowal Assassination Attempt

Another court also disqualified the country's foreign minister.

Iqbal, 59, a senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, was hit by a bullet on his right shoulder in the attack, the police said.

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.

TLYP is a radical Islamic party which is known for its widespread street power and massive protests against any change to Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law.

Malik Ahmed Khan, the spokesman for Punjab government, said the bullet impacted the minister's arm.

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.

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An official at the Services Hospital here said that the surgery was successful and Iqbal is recovering well. "Thank God, he is out of danger". In 2011, then-Punjab governor Salman Taseer, a liberal who had called for reformation of the laws, was gunned down by his own bodyguard in broad daylight in Islamabad. "PML-N will not be browbeaten into submission", tweeted Sharif. While dozens are on death row for blasphemy, no one has been executed in recent decades.

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has also condemned the incident. "I had attended the Faizabad, Islamabad sit-in staged by religious outfit - Tehreek-e-Labbaik Yarasoolallah Pakistan (TLYP) - in November previous year and made a decision to kill blasphemers", Hussain said.

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

The shooting also caused widespread shock on social media, prompted a race for breaking news between the national TV channels and drew quick national and worldwide condemnations.

Iqbal, who also heads the planning ministry, has in recent years overseen the implementation of Chinese-funded Belt and Road infrastructure projects in Pakistan as part of the near $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). "We are interrogating him to find out whether he acted alone or at the behest of someone", he said. "We will know only after investigation of the attacker".

  • Adam Floyd