Pakistan’s ex-PM Imran Khan was shot: What, where and why?

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was wounded when his anti-government protest convoy came under attack in the east of the country.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was shot in his leg at a Wazirabad rally on Thursday.

Here are the details.

What happened?

  • Khan was shot in his right shin on Thursday, at 4:21pm local time (11:21 GMT), when his anti-government protest convoy came under attack. His life was not in danger.
  • A total of 14 people were injured, doctors said. One of Khan’s supporters died after sustaining bullet wounds.
  • “This is not only an assassination attempt on Imran Khan but an attack on Pakistan itself,” aide Fawad Chaudhry said on Twitter.
  • Khan was taken to a hospital in Lahore after the attack. A doctor said there were bullet fragments in his leg and his tibia bone was chipped.
  • Earlier, videos circulating on social media showed him waving to the crowd after being evacuated from his vehicle.

Where did it happen?

  • The attack took place in Wazirabad, nearly 200km (124 miles) from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.
  • For the past week, Khan has been leading a protest march to Islamabad to demand snap elections.


Why did it happen?

  • The identity of the gunman, who was arrested by police, was not immediately made clear. No group has claimed responsibility.
  • TV channels showed a man they said was a suspected shooter who looked to be in his twenties or thirties. He said he wanted to kill Khan and had acted alone.
  • “He [Khan] was misleading the people, and I couldn’t bear it,” the suspect said in the video. The information minister confirmed the footage was recorded by police.

What’s the wider context?

  • Khan’s government was removed in April this year through a parliamentary vote of no confidence. Since then, Khan has been holding rallies across the country, demanding early elections.
  • The parliamentary move put him among a long list of elected Pakistani prime ministers who failed to see their full terms – none has done so since independence in 1947.
  • In response, Khan began his “Long March” on October 28 from Lahore. The march was expected to reach Islamabad on November 11.
  • According to analysts, Khan’s shooting underscored growing political instability in Pakistan, with the government and the former leader refusing to back down from their positions.
  • “The question that is being asked again and again is if we are a parliamentary system, and if this is to be a civilian government, then let the electoral process continue, let the country go to general elections,” said Asad Rahim Khan, a political analyst based in Lahore.
  • “And what we are seeing in terms of the public’s loss of faith, I fear, will be exacerbated by today’s assassination attempt,” he added.
  • Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Pakistan Abid Hussain said: “While Khan himself has been hinting at bloodshed during his long march, this attack reflects the growing discontentment in the country.
  • It will only increase pressure on the government, which has been accused by the PTI of wanting to remove Khan by any means necessary.”
  • “Khan has himself said multiple times in the last few months that his life is in danger,” he added.

What happened to the attacker?

  • Information Minister Murriyam Aurangzeb said police arrested the suspected gunman at the scene.
  • An interrogation was underway, he added.
  • Police also cordoned off the scene to carry out forensic work.

What is the latest on the ground?

  • Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said “considerable anger” was mounting in the streets in the aftermath of Imran Khan’s shooting.
  • “We are getting preliminary reports of protesters blocking roads, burning tyres, and this could escalate into something big,” he added.
  • Arifa Noor, a political analyst in Pakistan, expressed surprise at the attack.
  • “Nobody expected it to be like this, to have gunshots fired at a former prime minister, considering, just back in 2007, we lost a very popular leader through this kind of violence,” Noor told Al Jazeera.
  • “Right now, there is an immediate reaction from supporters of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf, and it is an aggressive reaction. But hopefully, once the leadership recovers from the shock … they will try and keep their supporters calm and prevent the kind of violence that broke out in Pakistan when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated back in 2007.”

What were the reactions?

  • Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif issued a statement condemning the incident and asked authorities to immediately launch an investigation.

  • The army also denounced the shooting. “Sincere prayers for precious life lost and speedy recovery and wellbeing of Chairman PTI Mr Imran Khan and all those injured in this unfortunate incident,” it said in a statement.
  • “Strongly condemn heinous assassination attempt on ex-PM of Pakistan, the brave @ImranKhanPTI,” Pakistan President Arif Alvi said on Twitter.

  • “It’s a development that just took place. We’re closely keeping an eye on, and we’ll continue to monitor ongoing developments,” Indian external affairs ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said.
  • Former Pakistan Cricket Captain Wasim Akram said he was deeply disturbed while calling the country to stand together.

  • First wife Jemima Goldsmith expressed relief at the news that Khan survived the incident. “The news we dread … Thank God he’s okay,” Goldsmith, who lives in the United Kingdom, wrote on Twitter.  “And thank you from his sons to the heroic man in the crowd who tackled the gunman.”

  • Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai said violence should never be acceptable.

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the attack on Khan and his supporters was “completely unacceptable”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies