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Pakistan: Imran Khan speaks out after assassination attempt

November 4, 2022

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he would return to street rallies after his recovery. His party also called for nationwide protests after the politician was shot and injured at an anti-government rally.

Supporters of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's party, 'Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf' chant slogans during a protest
Supporters of Khan and his party took to the streets of Pakistan on FridayImage: Fareed Khan/AP Photo/picture alliance

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gave his first public statements to reporters on Friday following an assassination attempt on his life a day prior. Shots from a gunman left Khan wounded in one leg, with the former Pakistan leader now in recovery.

Khan accused current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, a former interior minister and a senior military intelligence officer, of plotting his assassination. Khan did not present any evidence for his claims and went on to demand Sharif's resignation.

The Pakistani government has denied having any role in the attack.

Khan's party calls for demonstrations 

Khan's party called for nationwide protests on Friday.

"Today, after Friday prayers, there will be protests across the country, which will continue until Imran Khan's demand is met," Asad Umar, a close Khan aide, said on Twitter.

Supporters obliged, coming out into the streets of nearly all of Pakistan's major cities. They blocked roads and engaged in sporadic clashes with security forces. Other supporters gathered that the place where he had been wounded.

Khan vowed to resume his march on Islamabad, which had been in progress when he was attacked, as soon as he is fully healed.

The ex-prime minister was leading a protest rally on Thursday to pressure the government to hold early elections when his convoy was attacked. He was shot twice in the leg and was said to be in stable condition in the hospital. One of Khan's supporters was killed, while 13 others were wounded.

Police have not commented publicly on the incident.

Khan, who was ousted by a parliamentary no-confidence vote earlier this year, had planned to travel with his large protest convoy to Islamabad. 

The politician's supporters rallied at the site of the alleged assassination early Friday and urged him to continue the march on the capital.

Who targeted Khan?

Immediately after the attack, police arrested a suspect who later confessed to shooting at Khan in an attempt to kill him.

Pakistan's interior minister alleged the gunman was a "religious extremist" who was angry with the ex-prime minister for comparing himself to the Muslim prophet Mohammed in his recent public speeches.

However, Khan aide Umar accused the prime minister of being behind the attack, but, like Khan, did not provide evidence for the claim. 

Khan came to power after national elections in 2018 that were marred by allegations of rigging by the powerful Pakistani military.

dh, wd/sms (dpa, Reuters)