Shooter of Pakistan’s Ahsan Iqbal linked to Tehreek-e-Labbiak
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was the victim of an assassination attempt last Sunday [File: The Associated Press]
A suspect arrested for an assassination attempt on Pakistan's interior minister says he is a member of a far-right religious organisation that has previously accused members of the government of committing blasphemy, police say.
Abid Hussain, said to be in his early 20s, was arrested from the scene of the attack in the central Pakistani district of Narowal, on Sunday, shortly after he fired a bullet that struck Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal in the right arm, police told.
Iqbal, 59, is "out of danger" and recovering in a hospital in the eastern city of Lahore on Monday.
The attack has, however, raised fears of violence in advance of a scheduled general election in July, with Iqbal's ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) battling the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to remain in power.
"Our initial investigation shows that [Hussain] is associated with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan," police official Aitzaz Bashir told. "He admitted this himself."
Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), also known as Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA), blockaded the Pakistani capital Islamabad for three weeks in November, demanding that the government rescind an electoral law amendment that saw a minor change in an oath that members of parliament are required to take.
At the time, TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi led thousands of protesters to blockade a major highway entering the city, accusing members of the government, including Iqbal, of having committed "blasphemy" by allowing the change.
The sit-in eventually ended after the government capitulated to the group's demands in a deal brokered by Pakistan's powerful military.
Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan, where at least 74 people have been killed in connection with accusations of having insulted Islam, its Prophet or the Quran, according to an tally.
It is also a crime under Pakistani law, with certain forms punishable with a mandatory death penalty.