Wednesday, Oct 04, 2023

Imran Khan Assassination Attempt: Events That Led To Attack On The Former Pakistan PM

Imran Khan Assassination Attempt: Events That Led To Attack On The Former Pakistan PM

On October 28, Khan embarked upon the 'largest long march in the country's history' from Liberty Square in Lahore to Islamabad to demand early elections, with the procession expected to reach the capital on November 11. He was targeted during an ongoing rally.

Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan injured after an unidentified gunman opened fire during
Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan injured after an unidentified gunman opened fire during PTI

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday survived an alleged assassination attempt during a firing at his 'freedom' rally in Wazirabad. The incident happened at Allahwala Chowk in Wazirabad town of Punjab, according to media reports. 

After his ouster from the post following a no-confidence motion against him in April, Khan has been in the midst of multiple political controversies as he has led, with his supporters, multiple rallies and processions in the last seven months demanding early elections in the country. Khan alleges that the “corrupt” government led by the unelected PM Shehbaz Sharif would drive the country to a brink of economic and political crisis. 

Below is a reverse-chronological sequence of events that culminated into Thursday’s alleged assassination attempt targeting Khan.

November 3: Khan survives an alleged assassination attempt while leading a protest march to the capital, Islamabad, demanding snap elections. Khan has reportedly suffered a bullet injury on his leg, and has been shifted to a hospital. 

PM Shahbaz Sharif has condemned the attack targeting his predecessor and ordered an immediate investigation into the incident, Al Jazeera reported. One suspect has been nabbed but the identity of the gunman has so far not been ascertained.

October 28: Khan embarked upon the 380-km “long march” from Liberty Square in Lahore to Islamabad around 11am, with the procession expected to reach the capital city on November 11. 

October 25: Khan called on his supporters to join the “largest long march in the country’s history” from the eastern city of Lahore to Islamabad to vociferously demand early elections in the country. As per media reports, more than 30,000 security officials have been deployed and various entry and exit points of key cities barricaded across the country to control the crowds.

October 20: Pakistan’s Election Commission ruled that Khan would be removed from his seat in parliament but did not order a longer disqualification from public office, after his alleged involvement in buying and selling of state treasuries worth $635,000 came to the fore. Between 2018-2022, the PM was accused of misusing his premiership to misappropriate gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad.

October 7: While battling multiple legal suits, Khan has periodically organized “long marches” in the country to demand early elections, which are otherwise scheduled in October next year. 

In one of his rallies on October 7, Al Jazeera quoted Khan ““The problem is this government will push Pakistan to the brink. What if the economy tanks and we default? It will be beyond all of us,” casting doubts over Sharif’s ability to manage a flood ravaged and economic crisis stricken country.

September 22: The High Court deferred contempt proceedings against Khan after he agreed to apologize to the court for his remarks made against the sitting female justice. If convicted, Khan could have been barred from holding public office for a period of five years according to Pakistan election laws. 

“I assure the court I will not do something like this in future,” he said. “I am sorry if I crossed a red line,” Khan submitted. Following his apology, the judge decided to not indict the cricketing icon-turned-politician, and instructed him to file his statement in an affidavit before the next hearing on October 3.

September 19: Islamabad High Court instructed dropping “terrorism” charges against Khan after his Defence lawyer pleaded not guilty. Khan’s advocate contended that his statements about suing the judge and government officials were simply about taking legal action against their “errant” behavior. 

September 12: Khan’s bail was again extended until September 20, with his supporters once again condemning the Sharif government’s attempts to level false allegations against him. 

Meanwhile, Khan accused the government of attempting to appoint a “favorite” to the military’s top post, and questioned the credibility of an unelected government to select the army chief. 

The army, in turn, lambasted Khan for attempting to “defame” the institution. 

September 1: Khan’s bail was subsequently extended until September 12. Senior PTI Asad Umar criticized the Sharif government for filing criminal cases against the former prime minister.
“They have realized it is impossible to face him politically. So now they are trying to put false charges against him,” Umar was quoted.

The court also lifted the Pakistan media regulator’s ban on live broadcast of Khan’s speeches, claiming that the body has “exceeded its authority.” 

August 25: Khan was charged for “terrorism,” “contempt of court,” and “unlawful assembly” for his speeches, that were now prohibited from being aired on TV. 
He was, however, granted protective bail until September 1 and was asked to re-appear before the trial court. 

August 20: Pakistan's electronic media regulator announced a ban on the live airing of Khan's speeches because of what it called his "hate speech" against state institutions.

Around the same time, Khan’s close political aide, Shahbaz Gill was arrested on charges of conspiring a mutiny through his speech after he urged soldiers and officials to disobey all “illegal orders” given by the government.Gill was subsequently charged for treason, the maximum punishment for which is death penalty.
Against this backdrop, Khan voiced support for Gill and threatened to sue police officials and a sitting female judge for allegedly torturing his aide.

July 27: Pakistan's top court ruled to hand control of the country's most populous province, Punjab, to a candidate backed by ousted Khan. The move triggered fresh political uncertainty in the South Asian nation amidst a crippling economic crisis.

June 5: In the first week of June, fresh allegations floated that Khan, his wife Bushra Bibi and her friend Farah Gogi made "billions" under the tenure of the PTI government.

May 26: Khan warned the government to stage fresh elections or face more mass protests, after leading thousands of supporters to Islamabad in a showdown with his political rivals. The announcement followed 24 hours of chaos after Khan’s supporters clashed with the police and blocked roads across Pakistan.

April 11: Pakistan’s parliament elected opposition lawmaker Shahbaz Sharif as the new prime minister, following a week of political turmoil that led to the weekend ouster of  Imran Khan.

March 30: After a no-trust motion against Khan’s government was tabled in the National Assembly on March 28 by Pakistan Democratic Movement leader Shahbaz Sharif, Khan lost the majority on March 30 after key allies sided with the Opposition ahead of the no-trust vote.

March 27: PM Khan claimed foreign powers were behind a ‘conspiracy’ to overthrow his government, alleging United States' involvement.

March 8: Pakistan's Opposition leaders submit a no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan, accusing his government of uncontrolled inflation.

(With inputs from agencies) 


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