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PoliticsWorldImran Khan not shot at accidentally: Firing explained

Imran Khan not shot at accidentally: Firing explained

An hour before the firing, Imran Khan had told supporters in another part of Wazirabad, where he was scheduled to speak, they should accompany him elsewhere

The assailant who fired shots from a pistol at Imran Khan today in Pakistan did not fire indiscriminately, it is now known. He stood atop a container truck that served as the centrepiece of his ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ (True Freedom) March against the Shehbaz Sharif government. The gunman fired from a pistol from the left side of where Imran Khan was standing; he could not get close enough for a clear shot in a tight crowd, reports said. A party worker grabbed his forearm and dragged him to the ground.

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan was rushed to a Lahore hospital after he was wounded in firing at his rally in District Gujranwala in Wazirabad, about 200 km from Islamabad, in Pakistani Punjab this afternoon.

A supporter was killed and 13 others, including four politicians from Imran Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), were injured in what his party called an “assassination attempt” on the former cricketer during his ongoing march to Islamabad against the army establishment-backed government in Islamabad.

With his right leg bandaged, Imran Khan was seen waving as he was escorted into an SUV, which was an early indication that the injury was not critical. He was later reported to be “out of danger”.

An injured PTI leader, MP Faisal Javed Khan, said that a supporter had been “martyred”. The man killed was identified as Moazzam, 35.

Those injured included Ahmad Nasir Chattha, son of local legislator Hamid Nasir Chattha, shot in both legs. A 13-year-old child received a bullet in the abdomen.

Why Imran Khan was shot at

Bringing back chilling memories of how another former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, had been assassinated during a rally in 2007, the assailant said no one backed him. “I wanted to kill Imran Khan as he’s been misleading the people,” he said on camera. There were unconfirmed reports of another gunman, with an automatic rifle, at the spot.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of the PPP, whose mother Benazir was killed in similar firing, said: “I strongly condemn the attack on Imran Khan. I am praying for his swift recovery.”

A police video showed that the attacker was overpowered and arrested.

Seven months ago, Imran Khan’s government had fallen upon losing the defence establishment’s confidence. He has since been campaigning against the army and agency ISI’s “interference” that “has undermined democracy by installing a puppet government”. The most significant part of his diatribes was the verbal attack on the US, which he said was interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs.

Before and right after Imran Khan’s government fell, Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had warned him, sources said, not to abuse the US. As the Shehbaz Sharif government enjoys the support of the Pakistan Army which, in turn, enjoys the confidence of the Pentagon, political observers say that the assailant could have links with the establishment in Islamabad, the army or even the CIA of the US.

The PTI has raised an accusative finger at the Sharif government and asked the Punjab government to account for the incident. The Pakistani Punjab government is run by another party.

Once ‘picked’ by the army, Imran Khan had served about four years until last April. Since his government lost the majority in the National Assembly (Pakistani parliament), he has been demanding that the new government formed by his two main opponents be sacked. His opponents — the Sharifs’ Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the Bhuttos’ Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — are mutual rivals otherwise.

Did the former PM perceive a threat to his life?

It seems so. About an hour before the firing, Imran Khan had told supporters in another part of the Wazirabad town, where he was scheduled to deliver a speech, they should accompany him to a different area. He promised to speak there, Geo reported.

The PTI tweeted a video showing him boarding the container truck from his black SUV.

The firing took place minutes later as Imran Khan reached the roof for his speech.

Imran Khan has named three suspects. Through an intermediary, his aide Asad Umar, Khan said that people must know that he suspects Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan’s interior minister Rana Sanaullah and Maj Gen Faisal Naseer.

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