Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was shot on Sunday, May 6, in a suspected assassination attempt. Iqbal had just finished leading a public meeting in the Narowal district when the attack occurred. Talal Chaudhry, the Minister of State for Interior Affairs, reported that Iqbal was returning to his car after the meeting when he was struck in the arm at close range. Local police officer Imran Kishwar said the attacker was arrested immediately after the minister was shot, and that his motivation was not immediately known. Iqbal, 59, was transferred to the local district hospital, where he was treated for his wounds. Provincial authorities reported that the minister did not suffer any life-threatening injuries. After he was stabilized, Iqbal was flown to Lahore to receive further treatment.
Iqbal became the leader of Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior last year, in addition to his already-held role as Minster for Planning, Development, and Reforms. A member of the ruling party, he was in the Narowal district on Sunday attempting to drum up support before parliamentary elections scheduled for July of this year. Khurshid Shah, leader of the opposition party, described the attack as an attempt to portray Pakistani security as weak to create an environment of fear ahead of the election.
This assassination attempt comes at a vital time for Pakistan, a country which, in the past, was no stranger to politically motivated attacks. No one has claimed direct responsibility for the assassination attempt, though many first believed the attack might have been ordered by one of the rising fundamentalist parties in the country. However, the leaders of all of these parties have denounced the attack, raising fears that the presence of organized extremist groups might be on the rise again in the country.
Pakistan, which has been one of the safest and most stable countries in the region for the past few years, must view this attack as a warning sign of the rising threat political violence can pose in a part of the world that is already so unstable. The ruling government has a responsibility to its people and to the world to ensure that the elections in July are carried out safely and democratically. Pakistan must continue to limit the number of militant attacks that are carried out within its borders in order to remain an example for other governments in the Middle East.
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