Imran Khan said on Thursday that he was shot four times in an assassination attempt by “those using the script of religious extremism” in Wazirabad, Punjab, Pakistan. “I came to know that they had planned to kill me in Wazirabad or Gujrat a day before the attack,” the former prime minister said in his first video address since the attack from a hospital in Lahore.
Wazirabad and Gujrat are the cities along the route of march from Lahore to Islamabad against the federal government supported by his army forces.
Mr. Khan elaborated on what he called the scenario: “First, they accused me of blasphemy. […] they made tapes and released them and PMLN (one of the ruling parties) projected it. I knew who was doing it.” He said it was easy to find “because it’s a digital world”.
“So first I was alleged to have disrespected religion and then their plan was to do it in Wazirabad […] “A religious extremist killed Imran Khan,” he claimed.
Thursday’s shooting killed one of Mr Khan’s supporters and wounded at least 13 others, including leaders of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party.
“I was hit by four bullets,” said the former cricket captain as he showed off his post-operative ankle stitches, wheelchair, blue hospital gown, arm drip and leg cast. with the national flag in the background.
According to him, two shooters. Police have so far arrested the man who fired the gun and two other “suspects”.
The arrested assailant told the police on camera that he was acting alone: ”I am saddened that he is misleading people by claiming to be a prophet and depriving them of the fundamentals of Islam.” But Mr. Khan denied the allegations, specifically blaming top leaders: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Internal Security Minister Rana Sanaullah and Major General Faisal Nasir, who heads the ISI intelligence agency.
‘If something happens…’
“Four people made a plan to kill me,” he said today, “I named those people, took a video and hid it abroad,” and added that if something unpleasant happens to him, he will announce it.
“How did I know they were preparing this? Insiders told me,” Mr. Khan said in today’s video, “A day before Wazirabad, they saw the increasing number of people and hatched the plan… [They were] using the scenario of religious extremism,” he said, comparing it to the killing of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer by a religious extremist in 2011.
The government has denied any role and promised a fair investigation.
The attack brought back vivid memories of how another former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated in a rally in 2007. His assassination remains a mystery as he campaigned for the election.
Imran Khan has been demanding snap elections since his government fell seven months ago after losing the confidence of security forces. Since then, he has been campaigning against the “interference” of the army and the ISI intelligence agency, which has “undermined democracy by installing a puppet government”.
Once considered the army’s “choice”, the 70-year-old – known for his shrewd moves on the field as a World Cup-winning cricket star – served as prime minister for nearly four years until last April.
He began his “long march” last week to demand the resignation of the new government formed in October by two of its main rivals, Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party. PPP).