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Senators speak in one voice against attack on Ahsan Iqbal

Senators speak in one voice against attack on Ahsan Iqbal

Pakistan's Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was injured on Monday in an assassination attempt when a man opened fire at him after he had addressed a political rally in Punjab province, police said.

Iqbal, 59, was hit in the shoulder as he was leaving a political gathering in his hometown of Narowal, in Pakistan's state of Punjab.

Iqbal is a senior member of the governing Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).

According to police, the suspected gunman was identified as 22-year-old Abid Hussain; he remains under arrest and was shifted to an unknown location for police interrogation. He was airlifted from Narowal and taken to Services Hospital in Lahore for treatment.

The chief minister also sought a report from the IG Punjab and ordered the authorities concerned to take immediate action in this regard.

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They say the suspected gunman is believed to be affiliated with a recently formed, ultra-religious party.

Meanwhile, Senators Mushtaq Ahmed and Anwaar-ul-Haq condemned the assassination attempt on the interior minister and said that such elements would not be allowed to disturb the law and order situation in the country.

"The minister luckily survived", said junior interior minister Talal Chaudhry.

"The attacker was about to fire a second shot when police and people in the meeting overpowered him", he said.

The party calls for the aggressive enforcement of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which can carry the death penalty.

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Both the party's leader and Pakistan's prime minister have condemned the attack, which comes just months ahead of an expected election. He is also the minister for planning, development and reforms.

Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, former President Asif Ali Zardari, opposition leader and Chairman Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf Imran Khan, Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Senator Sirajul Haq, and other Pakistani political party leaders also strongly condemned the attack and prayed for Iqbal's early recovery.

Television footage showed a prone Iqbal being wheeled into the government-run hospital following the attack. "PML-N will not be browbeaten into submission", tweeted Sharif.

Statements of condemnation have been pouring out from all the politicians of the country, rival and ally alike.

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

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