Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan shot and injured during a protest march

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan shot and injured during a protest march

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan shot and injured during a protest march

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (R) addresses his supporters during an anti-government march towards the capital Islamabad demanding early elections on November 1, 2022 in Gujranwala.

Arif Ali |: AFP |: Getty Images:

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was shot and wounded Thursday while leading a mass protest in the country’s eastern city of Wazirabad.

Former prime minister and senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Mohammad Atif Khan said Khan was shot in the leg and taken to hospital. Another PTI leader, Faisal Khan, was also injured, Atif Khan told NBC.

He said that two gunmen opened fire and were immediately taken into custody by the police. He also said one of the attackers was beaten by the crowd and died, according to NBC. An unidentified number of Imran Khan’s supporters present at the rally were also reportedly injured.

The PTI party called the shooting an “assassination attempt” in a tweet posted shortly after Khan was shifted to hospital for treatment. Senior PTI member and former information minister Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry said in an impromptu speech following the shooting. “This is not only an assassination attempt on Imran Khan, but an attack on Pakistan itself.”

Within an hour of the shooting, videos circulated on social media showing Khan standing with one bandaged leg and waving to supporters with one fist raised. the air

Pakistan’s deposed Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) shakes hands with supporters of his party during a rally in Islamabad on May 26, 2022.

Aamir Qureshi |: Afp |: Getty Images:

Thursday’s protest was part of a week-long tour to push for the ouster of the current government of rival Shehbaz Sharif and the holding of snap elections.

Khan, 70, a former cricket star who became Pakistan’s prime minister in 2018, was ousted in April this year after a no-confidence vote by opposition lawmakers, accusing him of corruption and unconstitutional actions that have been sanctioned by the country. Supreme Court.

In October, Pakistan’s Election Commission passed a ruling barring Khan from running for office again, sparking outrage among his many supporters who allege foul play.

Khan and his supporters say his ouster was a conspiracy orchestrated by current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the United States, which has a long and complicated relationship with the Pakistani government. Sharif and Washington deny the accusations.

Floods, inflation and anger

In the months since his ouster, Khan has surged in popularity among Pakistanis, many of whom are struggling in the country of 225 million due to rising inflation and the cost of living.

According to the World Bank, Pakistan was thrown into further turmoil after floods in June, caused by abnormally heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers, covered about 30% of the country, killing about 2,000 people and up to 9 million more. is to fall into poverty.

Khan, a former cricket captain, is seen by many in and around Pakistan as a common man’s hero. He is an outspoken critic of the United States, a major military aid donor, and Pakistan’s own powerful military, which has been responsible for past leadership coups.

“For six months, I have witnessed the revolution take over the country,” Khan wrote on Monday, describing the crowd of protesters supporting him. “The only question is whether it will be soft with a ballot box or devastating with bloodshed.

Khan’s legal troubles appear to have only made him more popular among his base, who believe he will bounce back and become prime minister again in next year’s election. Some political analysts also see him as the likely front-runner, and many expect the charges against him to be dropped.

Khan is one of the most popular figures in Pakistan and the wider South Asian region, known for leading the Pakistan national cricket team to glory in the 1980s and 90s. He later entered politics, founding the PTI in 1996.

Khan’s political career was marked by losses until his party, which ran on a populist platform, won the most seats in Pakistan’s National Assembly in 2018 and he led a governing coalition as prime minister.

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