Imran Khan accuses Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of attempting to kill him

The former prime minister was the victim of a personal attack that resulted in one death and at least 10 injuries.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday accused his successor Shehbaz Sharif of being involved in a plot to kill him as he recovered in hospital from gunshot wounds he received during a demonstration the day before.

Imran Khan says Shehbaz Sharif, who succeeded him in April after being overthrown in a no-confidence motion, was behind the assassination attempt along with Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a senior military official.

These three decided to kill me“he said in a televised speech on his party’s Youtube channel, from his hospital bed in Lahore (East), for his first public appearance since Thursday’s attack. The government has denied any involvement in the assassination attempt. which he attributed to a man of religious origin.

This attack left one dead and at least ten injured, further escalating tensions in a country plunged into a deep political crisis since Mr. Khan was ousted from power. Imran Khan, 70, had been the head of a “long walkgathering several thousand of his supporters between Lahore and the capital Islamabad, to obtain the holding of early elections, the first step in his hoped-for regain of power.

Sitting in a wheelchair, his right leg in plaster and the other bandaged on all sides, the former cricket champion spoke for almost an hour, multiplying the accusations against the government, the military and the intelligence services that he accuses of having contributed to his political downfall. He claimed that his opponents wanted to accuse him of having “desecrated religion or the prophet“, And would attribute the responsibility for his murder to a religious extremist.

Religious extremism

Rana Sanaullah had previously said in a press conference that the attack was “a very clear case of religious extremism“.”The allegations made by the defendant in the video are extremely disturbing and chillingHe said. A suspect was arrested and a video in which he appears to confess his act of him was leaked to the press. Tousled hair, hands tied behind his back, he explains that he attacked Mr. Khan because “deceived the public“.

He adds that he was irritated by the noisy procession that interrupted the call to prayer. Imran Khan was speaking to supporters Thursday from atop a shipping container over a truck in Wazirabad, about 170km east of the capital, when an individual shot him a barrage of automatic fire.

Several officials from his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Pakistan Justice Movement), were also injured. “The bullets hit my leg and when I fell there was another burst“, Described Mr. Khan. “There were two men. If they had synchronized well, I would not have survived“.”One of them has been captured and is presented as a religious fanatic. He is not a religious fanatic: there was an elaborate plan behind it“He said.

The alleged attacker, presented by the provincial authorities as called Naveed Ahmad, comes from a poor village near Wazirabad. Neighbors interviewed by the AFP described it as a “simple guy“, Having no known knowledge of political or religious movements.

Popularity intact

Pakistan has been struggling for decades with violent Islamist movements, which have a strong influence on a large part of the population. Imran Khan, who has maintained his reputation as a playboy throughout his sports career, has endeavored as a politician to present the image of a fervent Muslim. Up to being reproached for his complacency towards radical elements. Several political killings have marked the recent history of the country, marked by an almost permanent political instability and the pre-eminent role of the army, in power for almost half of its 75 years of existence.

The first head of the Pakistani government, Liaquat Ali Khan, was shot dead during a political demonstration in 1951 in Rawalpindi. In 2007, Benazir Bhutto, the first modern woman to drive a Muslim country, was also killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up near her vehicle while greeting her supporters, also in Rawalpindi. Imran Khan came to power in 2018, following his victory in the PTI legislative elections, on a populist platform that combines promises of social reform, religious conservatism and the fight against corruption.

But under his tenure, the economic situation worsened and he lost the support of the army, which was accused of helping him get elected. He continues to argue that his fall was the result of a “conspiracyhatched by the United States and relentlessly criticizes Mr. Sharif’s government and the military establishment. On Friday, Imran Khan promised to take back him “long walk“.”The day I get better, I’ll be back on the street“, He assured. He is counting on his intact popularity to secure a second term. The power prefers to wait until the October 2023 deadline, to give itself time to get the economy back on track.

SEE ALSO – Former Pakistani prime minister shot in the leg

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