Imran Khan Shooting A Manifestation Of Religious Extremism In Pakistan: Interiour Minister Rana Sanaullah

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was shot during a protest march in Pakistan's Punjab province. He survived the assassination attempt and is reportedly in stable condition.

Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Friday the shooting of Imran Khan was a manifestation of religious extremism in Pakistan. 

Sanaullah added that his party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) considers former Prime Minister Khan as a "political rival and not an enemy". 

Khan was shot on Thursday in Pakistan's Punjab province during a protest march. A gun-wielding man fired a volley of bullets at him, which hit him in the right leg. 

Sanaullah cited a video of the attacker and said that he was indoctrinated by extremists. 

"The attacker is seen as arguing with the investigators," said Sanaullah, adding that the government has tried to remove its contents from social media sites.

"In the video, the suspect's statements are very concerning and dangerous. Such allegations were made in the past as well. And after the video went viral, it is possible that such narratives will get fuelled," said Sanaullah, adding that it was "very saddening" that Khan blamed people for his attempted assassination without any investigation or proof.

Sanaullah also raised questions on the delay in the registration of a first information report (FIR) in the case and expressed concern over the leaked statement of the suspect — taken into custody from the crime scene.

Therefore, Sanaullah went on, the government was requesting Imran to review his security as well as behaviours.

"We do not want to scare or stop his long march but it is necessary to bring these matters to notice," said Sanaullah.

Imran Khan using attack for political objectice: Defence Minister

Separately, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif addressed the National Assembly and said the attack on Khan was being used for political objectives.

He said that "by taking the names of government and military officials", the entire matter was being pushed towards an unchartered territory.

"Don’t turn this incident into a victim of politics. Go after the suspects. Constitute a JIT (joint investigation team). But if this incident is being used to defame an individual or institution, then I will condemn it," said Asif.

Since his ouster from power in April, Khan has been blaming the all-powerful Pakistani military and organs of the state for staging his ouster. He has called the Shehbaz Sharif-led government as "foreign" and "imported". Khan has claimed that he was ousted by then-Opposition in a foreign conspiracy hatched by the United States. He said he was removed for pursuit of an independent foreign policy. Khan cited a letter written to Foreign Office by a Pakistani diplomatic mission abroad which said that the host country had warned that relations with Pakistan would suffer if Khan remained prime minister.

Since then, Khan and his party PTI have been leading huge protests and marches across Pakistan.

Khan 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. 

What we know of Imran Khan attack so far

Khan was atop a truck in a protest march in Pakistan's Punjab when a gunman opened fire at him. He suffered bullet injuries in leg.

Overall, seven persons were injured and one was killed in the shooting, according to police, adding that the injured included MP Faisal Javed.

Khan survived the attack and is reported to be safe and in stable medical condition. 

Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry said the gunman had fired from an automatic weapon, not a mere pistol.

Geo TV reported that the attacker was identified as Naved. He is in his early 20s. 

The suspect caught by police has said that he wanted to kill Khan because “he was misleading the public.”

"He (Khan) was misleading the people and I could not bear watching it so I… attempted to kill him,” he said in a video confession.

A video footage showed a PTI worker tackling the attacker from behind and trying to grab the gun of the attacker.

Ehtisam, who tackled the attacker, told the media that he forced the gun of the attacker downward and stopped further mayhem.

"I saw him open fire and hit him before he could fire another round. He dropped the gun and started fleeing. I chased and caught him...Khan sahab, jab tak hum zinda hai, aanch nahi aa sakti. (Khan sir, till the time I am alive, you will not be harmed.),” the supporter of Khan said, according to a report in India Today.

(With PTI inputs)