On May 6, Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s Minister of the Interior, was shot during a rally in his own constituency, in the province of Punjab. Fortunately, he survived the attack, but the bullet in his abdomen could not be removed. “The bullet lodged in my body… will keep reminding me of the impending need to remove the seeds of hatred sowed in the country,” Iqbal said.
An initial report suggested that the main suspect, Abid Hussain, 21, had carefully planned the attack; recently, Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Court issued an 8-day judicial remand of four possible accomplices.
According to other reports, Hussain is linked to Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) — also known as Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (“Movement of the Prophet’s Followers”). TLP is a new Sunni extremist party known for aggressively calling for enforcing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which can carry the death penalty, and for opposing any relaxation of these laws.
Many fear that this assault is not an isolated incident and that other members of the cabinet are on the TLP’s hit list. This apprehension, however, does not mean that the government is against sharia or blasphemy laws, or is even thinking of reforming them. Many extremist Muslims are aiming at even more government submission to sharia through intimidation and terror.