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Imran Khan attack: How ex-Pakistan PM’s comeback ended in shooting

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    13 hours ago

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Image source, Getty Images

The man accused of shooting Pakistan’s ex-prime minister Imran Khan in the leg said the former cricketer was “misguiding” the people, adding that he “wanted to kill him” for doing so.

That’s according to a video confession released by police and it is unclear the conditions under which the interview was carried out.

Mr Khan meanwhile insists he has the people on his side and was leading a protest march to the capital Islamabad as part when he was attacked.

“The establishment is against us,” he insisted to the BBC on Tuesday.

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Mr Khan’s fall from power and his defiant political comeback have roiled Pakistani politics – here’s how we got here.

Falling out with the military – and out of power

In July 2018, Mr Khan was elected prime minister – emerging as a fresh force who vowed to tackle corruption and fix the economy.

He had a massive amount of public support – as well as the covert backing of what in Pakistan is referred to as “the establishment”, or the military.

“He was made by them,” one defecting member of Imran Khan’s party had earlier told the BBC. “They were the ones that brought him into power.”

But public support fell amid skyrocketing inflation and foreign debt – stoking accusations that he had mishandled the economy.

His dynamic with Pakistan’s powerful army also reportedly began to change, with some observers pointing to Mr Khan’s refusal to sign off on the appointment of the new chief of one of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies in October last year as a possible cause.

His political opponents seized on this. By March 2022, a series of defections had deprived him of his parliamentary majority and the opposition tabled a motion of no confidence. Mr Khan sought to circumvent the move by having parliament dissolved and calling a snap election, but the Supreme Court ruled this was in breach of the constitution.

By April this year, Mr Khan had been ousted.

Becoming a vocal critic

But he has not gone quietly.

Instead he has been rallying against the military and government, delivering fiery speeches calling for fresh elections.

In July, his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) stunned rivals by taking control of a crucial provincial assembly in Punjab, defeating the PML-N party led at national level by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Many saw this as a sign of what could happen if early national elections were held.

Imran Khan

Image source, Getty Images

In October, Pakistan’s election commission announced that he had been disqualified from holding public office – accusing him of incorrectly declaring details of presents from foreign dignitaries and proceeds from their alleged sale. The gifts included Rolex watches, a ring and a pair of cuff links.

Mr Khan said the decision was politically motivated and began gathering hundreds of supporters – beginning a week-long so-called “long march” to Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, to pressure the government into holding elections. He had been expected to reach his destination by 11 November.

The march saw him travel along convoys of motorcycles and vans, addressing crowds from an open top vehicle as he made his way through Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province.

“For six months I have been witnessing a revolution taking over the country,” Mr Khan had posted on Twitter earlier this week. “[The] only question is will it be a soft one through the ballot box or a destructive one through bloodshed?”

On Thursday he was shot while on the platform of his campaign truck.

Defiant supporters vow to fight on

Mr Khan is now said to be in stable condition, escaping with a bullet wound to his right calf.

Former Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who was standing behind Mr Khan, told AFP that supporters had tried to snatch the gun from the attacker.

“In that scuffle he missed the target,” he said.

Prime Minister Sharif has ordered an immediate investigation. But a senior aide and spokesperson for Mr Khan, Raoof Hasan, accused the Pakistani government of being “directly involved” in the attack, saying the video confession was a “crude cover up”.

Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan, take part in a protest against the assassination attempt on him at Grand Trunk Road in Peshawar on November 03, 2022

Image source, Getty Images

Mr Khan’s PTI party has called for nationwide protests after Friday prayers.

Some protests have reportedly already taken place, with local news outlet Dawn saying footage showed hundreds of PTI supporters outside the residents of a military official.

“We demand a free and fair investigation into the incident and whoever is responsible should be punished,” one protester told news outlet Reuters.

Another said they would carrying on Mr Khan’s march to Islamabad, adding that “the march will not halt”.

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