Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was wounded on Thursday in a shooting rampage, which also left one dead and eight others wounded, that targeted the vehicle carrying him in eastern Pakistan as he continued his grand march against foreign interference.
"Thank God Imran Khan is safe," Azhar Mashwani, a leading member of his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), tweeted, saying that the man who fired the shots as the march passed through Wazirabad has been "arrested".
The PTI itself confirmed this information on social media: "Imran Khan was shot in the leg, but was in stable condition while being taken to hospital". The message was accompanied by a video of the former leader waving to supporters after the attack as he was being carried to a vehicle. Another video shows him with a bandaged leg.
Nadeem Abbas, a police officer on duty during the march, told EFE that "in the attack one person was killed and nine others were injured". He also explained that the attacker was first captured by Khan's supporters and then arrested by the police.
Footage of the firing. Assassination attempt on Imran Khan. pic.twitter.com/fmSgI2E8jc— Ihtisham Ul Haq (@iihtishamm) November 3, 2022
Images posted on social media show the attacker with a gun and how he is stopped by marchers and begins to be beaten until officers detain him.
Khan had warned on numerous occasions that he had received threats and that his life was in danger.
The former Prime Minister had started a march from the eastern city of Lahore to Islamabad last Friday under the slogan "haqeeqi azadi" (true freedom), after his term came to an untimely end this year following a no-confidence motion by the current government.
According to Khan, the no-confidence motion that brought about his ouster last April, brokered by a multi-party alliance led by the Pakistan Muslim League of the current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, was colluded with the United States.
Footage from inside the container when Khan was shot in his leg. He couldn’t stand up. pic.twitter.com/68me8vpp0P— Ihtisham Ul Haq (@iihtishamm) November 3, 2022
Sharif himself, in a message on Twitter, condemned "in the strongest terms" the shooting of Khan, saying he had asked the interior ministry for an immediate report on the incident and prayed for the politician's speedy recovery.
Pakistani President Arif Alvi also deplored the "heinous assassination attempt on the brave Imran Khan" and welcomed the fact that he was well, despite being wounded in the leg, in this "shocking, shameful, dastardly and cowardly" attack.
This march was mobilising thousands of supporters and, according to Khan, was not politically or personally motivated, nor did it seek to overthrow the government. Its aim was to make the country truly independent, free from foreign interference.
Khan claims that his dismissal was a punishment from Washington for a visit to Russia on the same day that Moscow began its offensive in Ukraine.
Footage of the firing. pic.twitter.com/iXgXwDP9EX— Ihtisham Ul Haq (@iihtishamm) November 3, 2022
The cricketer-turned-politician cancelled a similar call for a march from the city of Peshawar to Islamabad in late May after police resorted to tear gas and baton attacks on protesters.
Khan, who came to power after the 2018 general elections, maintained good relations with the Pakistani Army, which is credited with great influence in the government. However, that affinity began to deteriorate in the last two years, allegedly due to his new foreign policy distancing himself from the US.
The former Prime Minister, who at the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine sought to present himself as neutral in his country's relations with the US and Russia, has on several occasions publicly lamented the cost to Pakistan of supporting Washington in the war in Afghanistan.
After being deposed, Khan has indirectly referred to the army chief as a traitor for facilitating what he says was a foreign conspiracy to overthrow his government.