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Attack on Ahsan Iqbal Forces Us to Think Critically About Giving Airtime to Extremists in Pakistan

Attack on Ahsan Iqbal Forces Us to Think Critically About Giving Airtime to Extremists in Pakistan

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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.

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.

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.

During these trying times, let’s remember that not everything is a foreign conspiracy.

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.

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