SODHRA (a1tv news)As protests continued across Pakistan against the gun attack on the ousted Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan on Friday, more details surfaced about the suspected attacker.
In an impoverished suburb, neighbours of mild-mannered scrap trader Naveed Ahmad expressed shock that he was being held over an attempt on the life of the former prime minister.
“We used to exchange pleasantries whenever we crossed paths in the street,” 34-year-old Shamshad Ali said. “I found him to be a soft-spoken person, without an iota of anger.”
Naveed is the sole suspect in custody after Khan was wounded by a spray of gunfire at a political rally in the eastern city of Wazirabad on Thursday.
An apparent confession video leaked by police — and cited by the government — shows Naveed saying he attacked Khan because his protest interrupted the call to prayer, which summons Muslims to mosques five times a day.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the attack was motivated by religious sentiments.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, however, has condemned what it called a “conspiracy,” accusing government ministers and military generals of masterminding the attack.
In the town of Sodhra on the outskirts of Wazirabad, Naveed’s family home has been shut. Neighbours said his mother, wife and two sons were picked up by police shortly after the attack, which left Khan injured and halted his march towards the capital Islamabad.
Police have not yet commented on the incident, but Punjab government officials confirmed the suspect’s name.
Muhammad Munir, who makes the call to prayer at the local mosque, watched Naveed come to worship there “quite often” but considered him “the kind of a person who minds his own business.”
“I never heard anything negative about him,” the 55-year-old said. “I never saw him fighting or exchanging harsh words with anyone.”
“Naveed was a simple boy and had no leanings towards any religious parties,” said 26-year-old Abrar Ahmad, no relation of the alleged attacker.
Numerous neighbours said Naveed inherited a junk store from his deceased father and had worked in Saudi Arabia, a common destination for impoverished Pakistanis who send remittance payments to their families back home.
“I am surprised at how Naveed, who belongs to a poor family, dared to make such an attempt,” said local grocer 36-year-old Muhammad Saleem.