Pakistan minister undergoes surgery after assassination attempt; another suspect arrested
Pakistan's Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal underwent two successful consecutive surgeries on Monday after being shot in an apparent assassination bid by a religious fanatic during an election rally in Punjab province, as another suspect has been taken into custody.
Iqbal, 59, a senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, was hit by the bullet on his right shoulder in the attack on Sunday.
An official at the Services Hospital here said that the surgery was successful and Iqbal is recovering well.
"Iqbal is out of danger and recovering fast," he added.
Iqbal underwent two consecutive surgeries and has now been shifted to the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital.
"The abdominal laparoscopy of Iqbal has been performed. Bullet has not breached peritoneum and all intra-abdominal organs are intact. No expanding hematoma. Decision not to remove the bullet from his abdomen has been taken by the group of senior doctors considering that it may lead to more tissue damage," the official of the hospital where the procedure was performed said.
He said the bullet had also penetrated the right elbow joint of the minister.
Meanwhile, police have booked suspect Abdi Hussain, 21, under attempted murder and terrorism charges of Pakistan Penal Code and Anti-Terrorism Act. Azeem, an accomplice of Hussain, who reached the rally along with him has also been arrested.
Iqbal was leaving a venue after addressing the election rally in his hometown Narowal, some 80 kms from Lahore on Sunday at 6.15pm when Hussain opened fire at him, injuring his arm and abdomen.
Narowal senior police officer Imran Kishwar said the suspect could not get a chance to open second fire on the minister.
"The moment Hussain opened the fire on the interior minister the PML-N workers present there grabbed him," he said.
Hussain belongs to the religious outfit - Tehreek-e-Labbaik Yarasoolallah Pakistan (TLYP), according to preliminary investigation.
"The suspect who opened fire on the interior minister belongs to the TLYP. We know the motive of this attack but I want to tell that this is a very dangerous game being played against the PML-N," Information Minister Marrium Aurengzeb said. Talking to reporters she said "this politics of hatred" should be stopped now.
A senior police officer said that the suspect told investigators that he opened fire on the minister to take revenge on the ruling PML-N for trying to delete the clause related to the Khatm-e-Nabuwat (the finality of Prophet Muhammad) from the Constitution.
"The suspect belongs to a religious family and a worker of the TLYP," he said.
Today, he said Hussain had made a confessional statement saying "he acted alone because his religious sentiments were hurt by the PML-N government's decision.
A couple of months ago Iqbal had also faced a shoe-attack in his hometown. However, the shoe-attacker was arrested and later freed after Iqbal pardoned him.
The suspect then claimed that he hurled the shoe at him because he was not happy with the PML-N government to change the clause from the Constitution related to the finality of the Prophet.
PML-N federal ministers Khwaja Saad Rafique and Talal Chaudhry have expressed their fear that the attack could be a conspiracy to delay election or stop the PML-N from taking part in upcoming general election.