Pakistan Prez Deplores ‘Heinous Assassination Attempt’, Army ‘Highly Condemns’ Attack

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, President Arif Alvi and the army on Thursday condemned the attack on former premier and PTI chairman Imran Khan, injuring him in the leg and killing one of his supporters.

Khan sustained three bullet injuries on his legs and was reported to be out of danger after a gunman opened fire on the container-mounted truck carrying him during his protest march near Allahwala Chowk of Wazirabad in Punjab province in what his party claimed was an “assassination attempt.” Fifteen people were injured and one supporter was reported dead following the attack, police said.

Shortly after the incident, he was shifted to Shoukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore. A medical board was formed under the supervision of Dr Faisal Sultan, former health minister in Imran Khan’s cabinet.

Prime Minsiter Sharif said violence should have no place in our country’s politics. “I pray for the recovery and health of PTI chairman & other injured people. Federal government will extend all support necessary to the Punjab govt for security & investigation. Violence should have no place in our country’s politics,” Sharif tweeted.

He has instructed Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to seek an immediate report on the incident from the police. Prime Minister Sharif also postponed a press conference on his recent trip to China after the firing incident, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb tweeted.

President Arif Alvi termed the attack on Khan as a “heinous assassination attempt.” “I thank Allah that he is safe but injured with few bullets in his leg & hopefully non-critical. This attack is shocking, alarming, disgraceful, deceitful & cowardly. May Allah give him health & to all those injured,” tweeted Alvi, who belonged to Khan’s party before assuming presidency.

Foreign Minister and Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari “strongly condemned” the attack on Khan and prayed for his swift recovery.

Former president and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari condemned the shooting incident and urged concerned authorities to conduct a full investigation, according to Geo News report.

Imran Khan’s ex-wife Reham Khan said the firing on PTI chairman and other party members is “shocking and condemnable.” “Firing on PTI chairman Imran Khan & other party members is shocking & condemnable. Security for public events for all our politicians must be ensured by provincial/federal law enforcement & our agencies,” she said in a tweet.

The Pakistan Army said the firing was “highly condemnable.” “Firing incident during Long March near Gujranwala is highly condemnable. Sincere prayers for precious life lost and speedy recovery and well being of Chairman PTI Mr Imran Khan and all those injured in this unfortunate incident,” Inter-Services Public Relations, the PR wing of the Pakistan Armed Forces said in a statement.

PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said the attack on Imran Khan was “a well planned assassination attempt.” “The assassin planned to kill Imran khan and leadership of PTI, it was not 9 MM it was burst from automatic weapon, no two opinions about that it was narrow escape,” he said on Twitter.

Naveed Mohammad Basheer, the suspected gunman who shot Khan said he thought of killing the PTI chairman as he is “misleading people”. “Imran Khan is misleading the people so I thought to kill him,” he was quoted as saying in an interview with Dawn newspaper. He also accused Khan of blasphemy, including playing music and dancing during Azaan. “I only want to kill Imran Khan,” he said.

Imran Khan alleged in October that four individuals were conspiring to assassinate him on charges of blasphemy. He announced that a video containing names of the ‘conspirators’ will be released if anything happened to him. “If I get killed then they will say a religious fanatic killed him [Imran] because he had committed blasphemy,” he had said.

Khan, who was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, has talked about a ‘threat letter’ from the US and claimed that it was part of a foreign conspiracy to remove him as he was not acceptable for following an independent foreign policy. The US has bluntly rejected the allegations.

He has been demanding early elections and he is leading the long march towards Islamabad to force his demands. The term of the National Assembly will end in August 2023 and fresh elections should be held within 60 days.

(With inputs from agencies)

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