Former Pakistani leader Imran Khan is shot and slightly wounded

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan lying down after being shot
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was slightly wounded in a gun attack Thursday that supporters said was an assassination attempt.
(Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf)

A gunman opened fire Thursday at a campaign truck carrying former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, slightly wounding him in the leg and killing one of his supporters, his party and police said. Nine others were also wounded.

The suspect was immediately arrested, and police later released a video of him in custody, apparently confessing to the shooting and saying he acted alone. It was not clear under what conditions he made his statement.

“Only Imran Khan was my target,” said the suspect, identified as Faisal Butt by Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb.


The attack raised new concerns about growing political instability in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation with a population of 225 million.

Since his ouster in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April, Khan has been able to mobilize mass rallies across the country, where he has whipped up crowds with claims that he was a victim of a conspiracy by his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and the United States. Sharif and Washington have denied such allegations.

Pakistan has a history of political assassinations, the most high-profile being that of Benazir Bhutto, who was twice prime minister and the first democratically elected female leader of a Muslim country.

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Khan was later seen with a bandage on his right leg, just above the foot, according to reports and a blurry image. He was moved to another vehicle from his container truck, from which announcements were being made that he was safe.

“He is being taken to a hospital in Lahore, but he is not seriously wounded. A bullet hit him in the leg,” Asad Umar, an official from Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party, said. According to the Interior Ministry, the government has ordered an inquiry into the incident.


According to police, the attack happened in the Wazirabad district in eastern Punjab province, where Khan was traveling in a large convoy of trucks and cars heading toward the capital, Islamabad, as part of his campaign aimed at forcing the government to hold early elections.

District police officer Ghazanfar Ali said one person was killed and nine others were wounded in the attack.

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Among the wounded was Faisal Javed, a lawmaker from Tehreek-e-Insaf. In a video statement, with blood staining his clothes, Javed said that Khan’s protest march to Islamabad would not stop.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan demanded a report from the police about the incident and condemned the attack.

Fawad Chaudhry, a senior leader from Imran Khan’s party, told the supporters surrounding Khan’s truck that the attack was an attempt on the life of the former premier. Khan — a former cricket star turned Islamist politician — has been at loggerheads with Pakistan’s powerful military and has refused to halt his plans to march on the capital.

The country’s powerful military has said that although Khan had a democratic right to hold a rally in Islamabad, no one would be allowed to destabilize the country. Authorities in Islamabad have deployed additional security around the city to deter any clashes or violence.

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The attack happened less than a week after Khan began his march from Lahore, the capital of Punjab, along with thousands of supporters. Sharif’s government has said that there would be no early vote and that the next elections will be held according to schedule next year.

Khan’s latest challenge to the government comes after Pakistan’s elections commission disqualified him from holding public office for five years for allegedly selling state gifts unlawfully and concealing assets as prime minister.

Khan, who has challenged the disqualification in a pending court case, has said he would sue Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Raja, who was behind the decision, for calling him a “dishonest person.”

Thursday’s attack comes at a time when impoverished Pakistan is grappling with the aftermath of unprecedented floods over the summer, which killed 1,735 people and displaced 33 million.

Khan’s supporters rallied in different parts of the country hours after the shooting.