The assassination attempt on Interior Minister, Ahsan Iqbal, has created an air of tension right before the general elections. Ahsan Iqbal was shot and wounded in his left shoulder in Narowal, Punjab. He was attending a provincial assembly meeting in the city. Police identified the shooter as Abid Hussain, a 21-year-old local from Neelum Village. Initial reports are suggesting that the attack is linked to the TYLRA protests, which paralyzed the capital city of Islamabad last year. However, more details are to follow today regarding the assassination attempt.
Ahsan escapes assassination bidhttps://t.co/6s40SLoFck#AhsanIqbal @betterpakistan @pmln_org @CMShehbaz @PMLNPunjabPk @MaryamNSharif @KhSaad_Rafique @KhawajaMAsif @pid_gov @NisarPMLN pic.twitter.com/NCyU19Oyhw
— The Nation (@The_Nation) May 7, 2018
Just last week, the series of rallies for election campaigning officially began. PTI, PML-N, and PPP all held their major jalsas. And just yesterday, JI held their first rally in Karachi as well. The atmosphere of political division is undoubtedly at an all-time high. However, the assassination attempt on Ahsan Iqbal has seen a change in the atmosphere, at least at the leadership level.
Several notables, including political leaders and diplomats, condemned the attack without any debate over why it happened.
— PPP (@MediaCellPPP) May 6, 2018
Strongly condemn attack on Ahsan Iqbal today.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 6, 2018
COAS condemns firing on Federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal. Expresses best wishes for early recovery.
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) May 6, 2018
وفاقی وزیر داخلہ احسن اقبال پر حملہ انتہائی قابل مذمت ہے۔ ہم ان کی جلد اور مکمل صحت یابی کے لیے دعا گو ہیں۔ حملہ آور کو قرار واقعی سزا دی جائے۔
— Siraj ul Haq (@SirajOfficial) May 6, 2018
— US Embassy Islamabad (@usembislamabad) May 6, 2018
While the leaders refreshingly show this solidarity without forwarding political agendas, the public will certainly question the events leading up to this unfortunate incident. It is their right to do so as well.
The root cause of it all is also being addressed by the public en masse.
So the attacker wanted another Salmaan Taseer, shame on the parties and the people who support religious mobs. They are nothing but snakes in our own backyard who will bite our own. #AhsanIqbal pic.twitter.com/zherapnuOG
— Mahwash Ajaz (@mahwashajaz_) May 6, 2018
This is what Weaponization of Blasphemy Laws manifests as, in public places, gov premises and even universities (Mashal Khan):
ab naheen koi baat khatre ki
ab sabhee ku sabhee se khatra hai.. / Jaun#AhsanIqbal
— Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi (@Ali_Abbas_Zaidi) May 6, 2018
My humble views on Political , Religious, Sectarian, and Ethnic Anarchy in Pakistan #AhsanIqbal #احسن_اقبال #HateSpeech #Sectarianism #EthnicHate #LingualHate #Pakistan #RaddulFasaad pic.twitter.com/oe4bX8RCEa
— Aamir Mughal (@mughalbha) May 6, 2018
During these trying times, let’s remember that not everything is a foreign conspiracy.
The whole world is talking about attack on assassination attempt on #AhsanIqbal and then we say Pakistan suffers from image problem because of foreign conspiracies. What’s happening in Pakistan is beyond belief, internal political engineering damaging Pakistan like nothing else pic.twitter.com/KtxAzjzmdf
— Murtaza Ali Shah (@MurtazaGeoNews) May 6, 2018
Sometimes, it is important to look within and assess whether we are creating a breeding ground of intolerance based on religion. When religious zealots like Khadim Razvi take center stage and permeate political spaces, it is only a matter of time that civilian versions of such extremists start taking force. And, eventually, their words will translate into such terrible reactions by the civilian population. Moreover, supporting such people, especially if it is done at the level of a political leader like Imran Khan, will only set the wrong precedent. Now is not the time to take political sides blindly. Rather it is a time to question critically and demand justice for a man who recovers from the trauma of an assassination attempt.