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May 7, 2018

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‘Attack on Ahsan a bad omen for polls’

LAHORE: Vehemently condemning the attack on Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, the political leadership of the country has termed the incident as a ‘bad omen’ for the upcoming general elections.

Senior politicians have appealed to democratic forces to discourage intolerant attitude and unite on one point agenda concerning the continuation of the democratic process.

PPP Secretary General and former Chairman Senate Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari, while talking to The News, said the attack on the interior minister of a country raised many questions regarding the governance of the sitting government. However, he said more important was the timing of the attack that had taken place at a time when only three months were left in the upcoming elections.

Bokhari urged all the political parties to ponder over all the aspects related to this incident and think seriously what had been the motive behind this attack at a time when not much time was left in the general elections.

Former interior and chief minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, who himself had faced attempt on his life during the election campaign in late 2007 in Charsadda also voiced serious concern over the attack against the Interior Minister of the country at a time when political parties are going for electioneering.

“I don’t see it as a good omen for the general elections” said Sherpao, former told The News. Aftab Sherpao, who also heads Qaumi Watan Party said there must be a judicial inquiry of this incident as not only an Interior Minister had faced attempt on his life but also it had taken place at a very important phase.

Aftab Sherpao stated that political parties should act wisely now to lower the political temperature in the county which was only possible if they sit together and build consensus over a code of conduct for the upcoming election campaign.

Sherpao feared that at the moment, there had been several factors confronting the security of politicians who may face threats to their lives over religious, political or individual issues, adding one couldn’t rule out the possibilities of similar acts during election campaign. He said political parties must think seriously whether it was an attempt to sabotage the election process and must realize that country couldn’t afford postponement of polls. He said the democratic process must continue.

Head of Qaumi Awami Tehreek and a nationalist leader from Sindh Ayaz Palejo while talking to The News expressed concern over the incident and stated no matter what had been the motives behind it, it was the duty of state to ensure security of its ministers or citizens. He said the perpetrator of the act must be given exemplary punishment and facts behind the incidents should come to surface.

The PML-N leadership, while strongly condemning the attack, have asked for a thorough investigation into the matter while the majority ruled out the possibility of this being a ploy to delay elections 2018.

The central leadership stressed that there is no room for violence in electoral politics and a level playing field for electioneering should be available for all candidates of all parties.

Minister of State for Interior Affairs Talaal Chaudhry said that it would be difficult to speculate if this is a tactic to create an environment that would lead to delay in elections. He said that PMLN already does not have a level playing field for the upcoming elections, but the party’s support is rising among the people and PML-N won’t allow any delay in the elections.

Federal Minister Commerce and Industry Pervez Malik said that we all should be thankful to god that the attacker missed in his nefarious designs. He said that this attack appears to be more of a local political victimization related rather than part of any grand scheme of delaying the elections. Pervez went on to say that Ahsan Iqbal is a very brave individual but he needs to be more careful regarding following a strict security protocol.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah was of the view that an environment of fear is being created to sabotage the growing popularity of PML-N and its leadership. This incident he said is a part of such schemes where those who do not wish to see PMLN in power in 2018 elections and have failed to suppress PML-N with their tactics, appear to have resorted to scare the PMLN candidates to confine them to their homes. He was of the view that this could very well be part of the scheme to delay the elections.

Punjab Minister Labour & Human resource and Senior PML-N Leader Raja Ashfaq Sarwar said that it would be too early to speculate the motives and intended results of this highly condemnable act. He was of the view that jumping t conclusions and voicing uniformed opinions would not be the right thing to do therefore everyone needs to wait till the investigation is completed. Raja Ashfaq also pointed out that the withdrawal of the security detail of ministers under threat right down to the last gunman is a measure that needs to be rethought, considering the current circumstances.

Former National Assembly Deputy Speaker and PML-N Senior Leader from South Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Jaffar Iqbal Gujjar condemned the attack as an unacceptable norm in Pakistani politics, and said that it is not likely that this could be part of the plot to delay the elections. If such a plan were to be put in place, it would be done later when the elections are nearer, it is too early for such an action to achieve that result, he opined.

President Janoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz (JPSM) Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyaar strongly condemn the act and said such acts of violence are a bad political trend and do not auger well for Pakistan’s future. He, however, ruled out the possibility of this being a ploy to delay elections and was of the opinion that this act is a reflection of the intolerance in our society.

Former Punjab governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood and head of PPP Southern Punjab chapter also strongly condemned the attack on Interior Minister Ahsen Iqbal. Talking to The News, he voiced serious concern over growing intolerance in the society, saying it was a great social concern which need to be addressed through multi prong strategy at all level.

To a question related to the impact of the occurrence on upcoming elections, Ahmed Mehmood replied he was seeing polls on time and there could have been other motives behind the incident. “I will put it as an isolated incident and believe it couldn’t effect polls” said Makhdum Ahmed Mehmood.

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