The Taliban nearly assassinated Pakistan’s outspoken religious minister in a shootout in the capital of Islamabad today.
Two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a car carrying Hamid Saeed Kazmi, the Federal Religious Minister. The gunmen, who were riding a motorcycle, sprayed Kazmi’s car with automatic fire, killing the driver. Kazmi took a bullet in the leg and is being treated at a hospital in Islamabad.
Kazmi has been outspoken in his opposition to the Taliban and supports operations against the extremists in the tribal areas. He is a member of the Barelvi sect of Sunni Islam, which is in opposition to the Deobandi and Wahabbist strains of Islam that preach violent jihad.
In June, the Taliban killed another prominent Barelvi cleric in a suicide attack. Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi and four other people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his vest at a mosque in Lahore. An Arakzai-based Taliban group under the command of Hakeemullah Mehsud group took credit for the Lahore attack.
Hakeemullah has taken control of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, an alliance of Taliban groups based in the tribal areas and the greater Northwest Frontier Province, after Baitullah Mehsud was killed in an Aug. 5 airstrike in South Waziristan.
Hakeemullah threatened to avenge Baitullah’s death and has ordered several suicide attacks, including a strike at the main border crossing in Khyber that killed 22 border guards and an attack at a police training center in Swat that killed 15 recruits.