After a shooting at a political rally on Thursday that his party called an assassination attempt, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan narrowly escaped serious injury. The incident sparked protests from Khan’s supporters.
Khan is seen on video waving from an open-topped truck outside of Gujranwala in Punjab province before shots ring out, sending his party members ducking for cover.
Asad Umar, a senior leader in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said that Khan had been shot in the leg and continued, “Yes, he has been shot, there are pellets lodged in his leg, his bone has been chipped, he has also been shot in his thigh.”
It took about two and a half hours to drive Khan from the rally site to Lahore, where he received treatment and is now in stable condition, Umar said.
The police say that they have arrested the man they believe fired shots at the rally on Thursday. Police say they found a 9mm pistol and two empty magazines on the suspect.
Thursday, the Pakistani Ministry of Information released a video in which an unidentified man allegedly admitted to carrying out the attack.
The man in the video claims he “wanted to kill Imran Khan” because the politician “was misleading people” and that he acted alone.
As the call to prayer was being made, they (Khan’s rallies) were playing music and shouting from the loudspeakers. The man says something to the effect of, “I didn’t like this happening on our soil,” in the video.
CNN has decided not to air the video because it is unable to independently confirm its authenticity.
At least one person was killed, according to senior PTI politician and close Khan ally Faisal Javed, who was wounded in the attack and later released from the hospital. No information about the victim’s identity has been made public.
Please pray for us, for Imran Khan, for our fellow workers who are severely injured, and for our party member who has died and is a martyr,” said Javed, who can be seen sitting up in the video, while receiving treatment.
Sen. Fawad Chaudhry, a prominent member of the PTI and Khan’s former information minister, announced earlier on Thursday that Khan was in surgery and that six others were injured and still being treated for their wounds.
Punjab’s Chief Minister, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, took to Twitter to demand answers about “who is behind the incident, which people trained the accused, what is the thinking under which this boy was prepared, how much money he got, and where he got it.”
An Extended March By Khan
On the seventh day of his cross-country tour, Khan continued to rally support for his push for early elections to be held before August of next year. The so-called “long march,” which began in Lahore on October 28, was supposed to end in Islamabad after winding through several cities in Pakistan.
The former Pakistani cricket captain has held several rallies since being dramatically deposed as Prime Minister in a vote of no confidence in April. Over the course of that time, he has claimed, without providing any evidence, that the United States is to blame for his demise as a leader.
In a country where anti-American sentiment is high and where the rising cost of living has fueled anti-establishment feelings, his claims have resonated with a young population.
In the wake of the shooting, protests in support of Khan erupted on Thursday across Pakistan, with roughly 800 people converging on each of the capital cities of Islamabad and Peshawar. They protested against the army and the federal government for around two hours, blocking roads while waving party flags and chanting.
Attack With Firearms
On Thursday, hours after the shooting, PTI leaders released a video statement accusing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and Senior Intelligence Official Major-General Faisal Naseer of being behind the attack.
“This is a very critical situation… Cheema said, “We have tasked our legal team to look into the matter to file a watertight case.”
At a press conference on Thursday, the federal government dismissed the allegations as false and requested that the Punjab provincial government establish an investigation team to get to the bottom of the situation.
Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told the National Assembly that there must be an immediate investigation into PTI’s allegations of a conspiracy to assassinate Khan.
Punjab’s chief minister, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, has expressed skepticism that there was more than one assailant. The lone gunman, later identified as Naveed Ahmed, was apprehended by the police.
Muazzam Nawaz, a rallygoer, was killed and 14 others were injured (including Khan) when shots were fired.
After his government was overthrown in April by a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons, Khan immediately began organizing rallies across the country.
The former leader claims that his return to power was the result of a U.S.-led international conspiracy.
It’s likely that Thursday’s shooting will escalate tensions between Khan and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who spearheaded the campaign to oust Khan.
On Thursday, Khan claimed that Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and Maj. Gen. Faisal Naseer were all complicit in the attack.
According to PTI senior leader Umar, who claimed to have recently spoken to Khan, the accusations were made in a statement Khan released.
To paraphrase Khan, “I was getting information that this was going to happen from beforehand,” Umar said. There will be demonstrations if these men are not removed from their positions.
Sanaullah referred to Khan’s accusations as “grievous” in a Thursday televised address.
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