Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Saeed Kazmi survived an apparent attempt on his life by motorcycle-borne gunmen who shot at his car near a bustling market in the capital on Wednesday afternoon.
The driver of the vehicle was killed on the spot, while a security guard was wounded. The Minister was wounded in the leg and underwent surgery for fractures. Doctors said he was out of danger.
While the police did not comment on the possible motives for the drive-by attack, Mr. Kazmi, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party, is known to be a vocal critic of the Taliban.
Recently, he participated in conferences of anti-Taliban religious leaders. At one such conference, the gathered ulema declared suicide bombing as un-Islamic.
Earlier this year, Alama Sarfaraz Naeemi, a Barelvi cleric who was a moving spirit behind these ulema conferences, was killed in a suicide attack at his mosque in Lahore for his outspoken views against the Taliban.
The Minister’s car was attacked minutes after he left the Religious Affairs Ministry near the crowded Melody Market area in the heart of the capital.
Surprisingly for such a high-profile critic of the Taliban, his police escort vehicle was missing at the time of the attack. According to one television report, the escort vehicle trailed off on the way to get petrol leaving the Minister’s car to make its own way.
Television footage showed a blood-spattered car with several bullet marks on its side and front.
In the southern Punjab city of Multan, Mr. Kazmi’s home town, there were protests as news of the attack spread. He was elected to Parliament on a PPP ticket from Rahimyar Khan.