Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Shot in Assassination Attempt

Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan (C) arrives to join an anti-government march t
ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was shot in the leg on Thursday during an apparent assassination attempt. The assailant was subdued by a crowd of Khan’s supporters and handed over to the police.

Video of the event shows a large crowd around the truck on which Khan was making a public appearance.

Khan, like every Pakistani prime minister before him, was kicked out of office before the end of his term. He was the first to be ejected with a parliamentary vote of no confidence, which was held in April 2022.

Watch below as shots are fired at Imran Khan:

After losing a power struggle in which he tried to dissolve Parliament before it could eject him, Khan blamed “foreign interference” for his ouster, claiming his government was toppled by a “conspiracy” led by the U.S. State Department. 

The express reason for the no-confidence vote was Khan’s failure to deliver on promises to revive the economy after the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and crack down on corruption. He also lost the support of the Pakistani military, which is arguably the most important constituency in the country’s turbulent politics, a point the military occasionally stresses by staging a coup.

“I will not accept an imported government. I’m ready for a struggle,” he vowed in April.

Khan failed to have the no-confidence vote invalidated by Pakistani courts on the grounds that it was the work of a seditious foreign conspiracy.

In August, the Pakistani police filed terrorism charges against Khan after he threatened a judge and several police officials by name in one of his fiery speeches. Khan was angry at the officials because his former chief of staff Shahbaz Gill was arrested on sedition charges after demanding a military coup to put Khan back in power. Khan claims Gill was “tortured both mentally and physically, including sexual abuse” while in police custody.

In late October, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ruled Khan was ineligible to run for office for five years because he allegedly lied to election officials about lavish “gifts” he received from foreigners during his time in office. Members of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party rioted after the decision was announced.

The ruling seemed to thwart Khan’s plan for a political comeback, which involved PTI lawmakers resigning from their seats to force emergency elections in which Khan himself was listed as the only PTI candidate. 

Supporters of Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan, take part in a protest against the assassination attempt on Khan, in Peshawar on November 3, 2022. Khan was in stable condition after being shot in the leg at a political rally on November 3 in what the country’s president deemed “a heinous assassination attempt”. (ABDUL MAJEED/AFP via Getty Images)


Pakistani election laws allow a single person to win more than one seat, but the individual must eventually forfeit all but one of them before voting in the legislature. Khan had accumulated six seats with this tactic when the ECP shut him down, a setback that prompted considerable mirth from his political opponents. 

Their laughter was short-lived, as the ECP backtracked on its ruling a few days later, allowing Khan to keep running in elections as the sole PTI candidate. He added another legislative seat to his total in a by-election on Monday, prompting his campaign staff to crow that he “won with a big margin” without campaigning at all.

Undaunted, Khan began his “long march” to Islamabad, with the goal of forcing his successor Shehbaz Sharif to resign and hold snap elections. Khan and his retinue, including thousands of angry supporters, decided to use a convoy of vehicles to drive from city to city instead of walking. His convoy was passing through Punjab province on Sunday when it ran over 36-year-old Sadaf Naeem, a female journalist who was covering his protest march, crushing her to death. Khan said he was “shocked and saddened” by the incident and made a $20,000 donation to Naeem’s family.

Khan was giving a speech to supporters in Wazirabad on Thursday, roughly the halfway point in his “long march” tour, when an as-yet unidentified individual approached him and fired shots that reportedly struck his leg.

According to various local reports, up to a half-dozen shots were fired in the attack, before Khan’s supporters overpowered the gunman and handed him over to the police.

“Mr, Khan was rushed away from the scene and his supporters said he had survived the assassination attempt,” reported Sky News, which said one of its producers on the scene witnessed the attack.

Khan stood up and waved to reporters shortly before being taken to the hospital.

A senior Khan aid described the attack as “an attempt to kill him,” but the BBC noted police have not confirmed many details of the incident as of Thursday morning, including whether Khan was the target. Some local media outlets have posted a video in which the purported attacker states his goal was killing Khan.

The PTI party said four other people were injured in the shooting but, apparently, none of the injuries were fatal. Party leaders said Khan was in stable condition at a Lahore hospital after one of the bullets struck him in the shin. Video from the scene showed one of the other PTI members injured in the attack with a bandage on his face and a considerable amount of blood on his clothing.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack “in the strongest words” and called for an immediate investigation with assistance from the federal government. Pakistani President Arif Alvi called the attack “heinous,” “shocking, alarming, disgraceful, deceitful, and cowardly.”


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