Imran Khan blames the Pakistani establishment for conspiring to assassinate him


Islamabad, Pakistan
CNN

Tensions rose in Pakistan on Friday when former Prime Minister Imran Khan accused establishment figures of a plot to kill him, a claim strongly denied by government and security officials.

A day after surviving a shooting at a political rally outside the city of Gujranwala in Punjab province, Khan gave a rambling speech at a hospital in the city of Lahore where he was recovering from his injuries . While sitting in a wheelchair, the cricket star-turned-politician cited three prominent personalities as being behind the attack.

The former Pakistani leader suffered a fractured right leg from the stray bullet wounds, said Dr. Faisal Sultan told reporters. Sultan showed X-rays showing the fracture in Khan’s right leg and bullet fragments that were lodged on either side of the thigh.

Without offering evidence, Khan blamed Prime Minister Shabaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Major General Faisal, who is a senior intelligence official. CNN is reaching out to all three men for comment.

Khan first alleged on Thursday that the trio was responsible for the plot, in a statement shared by PTI leader Asad Umar, who said he had spoken to Khan recently.

In a televised speech on Thursday, Sanaullah rejected the accusation, calling it “serious”.

Pakistan’s intelligence agency also refuted Khan’s claims that a senior intelligence official was behind the shooting, and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) told CNN in a statement that the accusations are “unfounded”.

“This is an attempt to prejudice the investigation from the beginning. The organization had already sensitized the federal government about the threat to the former prime minister, which had communicated it to the Punjab provincial government,” the statement said.

Former Pakistan leader Imran Khan is pictured at a rally earlier this week.

The ISI also said Khan’s security was under the authority of the Punjab provincial government, which is led by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

“The former prime minister’s security was the responsibility of the PTI-led government in Punjab province. The shooting incident is a security failure on behalf of the Punjab government and cannot be attributed to any individual or agency of security. The need of the hour is calm in the country and not irresponsible statements,” the ISI said in a statement.

Khan had said he knew about the plot to kill him a day before it happened, and claimed there were two shooters involved in his attack.

“There was an explosion from one side and another from the front. There were two people,” Khan said of the attack.

Khan has been fixated on the government since his dramatic ouster in a no-confidence vote in April. During this time, he repeatedly claimed, without any evidence, that the United States was behind his loss of power.

One person was killed in Thursday’s attack that injured several others and sparked protests among Khan’s supporters.

Video of the alleged attack shows Khan waving from an open-top truck as shots rang out, sending members of his party scrambling for cover.

A bullet hit Khan in the leg, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umar said, later adding: “Yes, he has been shot, there are pellets in his leg, he has broken bone. also shot in the thigh.”

A man suspected of shooting at the rally was arrested Thursday, police said.

On Thursday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Information released a video of a confession by an unnamed man it says carried out the attack.

Khan called on citizens to protest against the three officials he alleges planned his attack until they resign.

“As long as these three men do not resign, you must protest, against injustice, you must wage jihad against them, jihad means opposing injustice,” Khan said on Friday.

Khan said that as soon as he recovers from his shooting attack, he will resume his so-called Long March in Islamabad calling for early elections. He was on the seventh day of the national tour, which began in Lahore on October 28 and was to end in Islamabad after passing through several Pakistani cities.

It is among a series of rallies the former Pakistan cricket captain has held since his ouster in April.

Thursday’s incident is not the first time Pakistani politicians have come under attack.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on 27 December 2007, and then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani survived an assassination attempt in 2008.

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