Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan was injured on Thursday when an unidentified gunman opened fire on the container-mounted-truck carrying him during his protest march in Pakistan’s Punjab province, but he was out of danger in what his party claimed was an ”assassination attempt.” The incident occurred near Allahwala Chowk of Wazirabad town in Punjab when Khan was leading the long march to Islamabad demanding early elections.
Asad Umar, the senior leader of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, told the media that a bullet hit Khan’s leg. ”Khan is being taken to Lahore by road. He is not critical but he received a bullet injury,” Umar said, adding that Khan’s opponent couldn’t see Pakistan being transformed. He, however, didn’t blame anyone for the attack.
Senator Faisal Javed, who was injured when a bullet grazed his face, said that a party worker was killed during the attack, while another was severely injured.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack on 70-year-old cricketer-turned politician.
According to eyewitnesses, a gunman fired on the container-mounted truck carrying Khan from a close range. They said one person has been arrested from the spot and police took him to an unknown location.
”Imran Khan was shot in the leg but was stable while being taken to hospital. He waved at supporters too,” his party said in a tweet.
Geo TV reported that the attacker was identified as Naved son of Bashir. The attacker, in his early 20s and wearing salwar-kameez, had been walking along the container and fired from the left side, the channel said.
The suspect caught by police has said that he wanted to kill Khan because “he was misleading the public.” ”He (Khan) was misleading the people and I could not bear watching it so I… attempted to kill him,” Dawn newspaper quoted the suspect as saying in a video statement.
PTI leader Imran Ismail has said that he was standing with Khan when the former prime minister was attacked. ”It was a straight fire (…) the bullet was meant to kill, not scare,” he claimed.
Senior party leader Shahbaz Gill said that ”Imran Khan is our red line and an attempt has been made to cross that red line.” He also said that Khan will fight till his last breath.
ARY News, which is considered as a mouthpiece of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, reported that Khan was out of danger.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack on Khan and directed Interior Minister for an immediate report on the incident.
”I pray for the recovery and health of PTI chairman & other injured people. Federal government will extend all support necessary to Punjab govt for security & investigation. Violence should have no place in our country’s politics,” Sharif tweeted.
He has instructed Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to seek an immediate report on the incident from the police.
Prime Minister Sharif also postponed a press conference on his recent trip to China after the firing incident, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb tweeted.
President Arif Alvi termed the attack on Khan as ”heinous assassination attempt.” ”I thank Allah that he is safe but injured with few bullets in his leg & hopefully non-critical. This attack is shocking, alarming, disgraceful, deceitful & cowardly. May Allah give him health & to all those injured,” tweeted Alvi, who belonged to Khan’s party before assuming presidency.
Foreign Minister and Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari ”strongly condemned” the attack on Khan and prayed for his swift recovery.
Bilawal’s mother, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, was killed during an election rally in Rawalpindi in 2007.
PTI leader Hammad Azhar has said that party member Ahmad Chattha was injured by two gunshots during an attack on Khan’s convoy.
”He [Chattha] is out of danger,” Azhar said, adding that the wounds were not deep and he was being operated upon to remove the bullets.
A video footage showed a PTI worker tackling the attacker from behind and trying to grab the gun of the attacker.
Ehtisam, who tackled the attacker, told the media that he forced the gun of the attacker downward and stopped further damage.
”If something tragic had happened to Imran Khan in our area, then we all would have been ashamed,” he said, adding that he was sorry that he could not stop him firing the first shot.
Initially, it was reported that Khan was safe while some people were injured. However, later it turned out that Khan was also injured in the attack.
Former human rights minister Shireen Mazari accused the interior minister for the attack and demanded his arrest.
”Rana Sana threatened to murder IK & today we saw him attempt that. He should be arrested on attempted murder as his public statement bear witness to same,” she tweeted.
She also said: “The string pullers, the Establishment will also be held responsible by the nation for this murderous attack on Imran Khan.” Khan, who was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, has talked about a ‘threat letter’ from the US and claimed that it was part of a foreign conspiracy to remove him as he was not acceptable for following an independent foreign policy. The US has bluntly rejected the allegations. He has been demanding early elections and he is leading the long march towards Islamabad to force his demands. The term of the National Assembly will end in August 2023 and fresh elections should be held within 60 days.
(With inputs from PTI)