As general elections approach and Pakistani politicians return to their constituencies to muster support, the anger of some people on how the government has performed seems to be coming to the fore.
On Sunday, two men lobbed shoes at ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif while he was addressing a gathering in Lahore. On Saturday, a man threw ink at foreign minister Khawaja Asif during a workers convention in Sialkot. The same day, a shoe was hurled at interior minister Ahsan Iqbal in his home constituency of Narowal. So far, all the attacks have been on the ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) politicians.
Sharif was attacked as he reached the podium to deliver a speech at an event organized by the Jamia Naeemia outside a madrassa.
The shoe hurled by a man hit him between the neck and shoulder.
The attacker then jumped on the stage and raised slogans in favor of Mumtaz Qadri – the killer of Punjab governor Salman Taseer – before fainting as the crowd tackled him down.
Meanwhile, another man hurled his shoe at the former premier, nearly hitting him. It landed on a man standing behind Sharif.
The Punjab police took both attackers and one witness into custody.
Sharif appeared shaken by the incident which also suggests the challenges his party faces from militant religious parties, some of which were once allies of his government.
The attacks on key members of the ruling party have been going on during the past week. On Saturday, a man was taken into police custody after he threw ink at foreign minister Khawaja Asif during his speech at the PML-N workers convention in Sialkot.
Asif, however, directed the concerned authorities to release the suspect, saying he did not have any personal enmity with him, adding that the man must have carried out the act at the behest of someone in return for some money.
The same day, a man lobbed a shoe at interior minister Ahsan Iqbal while he was addressing a workers’ convention in Narowal. Media reports suggested that the man, identified as Bilal Haris, tried to get closer to the minister as soon as he arrived on the stage in Aliabad to address PML-N supporters.
He then hurled a shoe at Iqbal, which reportedly touched his arm.
Party workers soon got hold of the man and handed him over to police.
According to a private news channel, the minister had to leave his speech incomplete and came down from the stage. Police are investigating the case.
Reacting to the reports, Ahsan Iqbal said, “It was a 3rd degree cheap PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) tactic.”
“Nothing happened, neither touched me nor interrupted my speech,” he said, adding, “However PTI (was) exposed, condemned by people.”