Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan yesterday welcomed the government’s offer to launch a judicial commission to investigate the attack in which he was shot in the leg on Thursday.
Khan made the remarks in a video broadcast live on social media from a hospital in the eastern city of Lahore, where he was receiving treatment after being shot during a protest march three days earlier in what he and supporters called an assassination attempt. The government has said it will investigate the shooting.
Khan said his supporters’ long march towards the capital calling for early elections, which was disrupted by the attack, would re-start tomorrow but that he would not join in person while he recovered from his injuries.
Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will lead the rally in coming weeks in the eastern province of Punjab, Khan said.
The former premier, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April, said he would join the rally in 10 to 14 days’ time when it reached the city of Rawalpindi, a short drive from the capital Islamabad.
In the meantime, he would address the march by video link each day, he said.
The rally began late last month in Lahore but was cut short six days later when Khan was shot in the leg as he waved to crowds from a container mounted on a truck leading the protest.
Khan has accused three people of devising a plan to assassinate him, naming Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and intelligence official Major-General Faisal Naseer.
He did not provide evidence for his claim, which was strongly denied by the government and military.
Sharif on Saturday said that Khan was making “baseless allegations” but that the government had requested the country’s chief justice to form a judicial commission to investigate the claims.
The former prime minister left the hospital yesterday, a senior aide said, three days after being shot in the legs in a failed assassination attempt.
The shooting — and Khan’s accusation that his successor Shehbaz Sharif was involved — have significantly raised the political temperature in a country that has been on the boil since he was ousted in April.
Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry told AFP that Khan “has been discharged” and a local TV channel showed him wearing a blue hospital gown as he left the Lahore clinic by wheelchair.
One man is in custody following the attack, which government officials have said was the work of a lone gunman and “a very clear case of religious extremism”. In an apparent confession video leaked by police to media, the sole suspect said he tried to kill Khan because his convoy was interrupting the call to prayer, which summons Muslims to mosques.
Khan, however, insists two shooters were involved, and speaking to reporters from hospital on Friday claimed Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and a senior intelligence officer were behind the plot.
Khan, a legendary former cricketing superstar and Pakistan’s only ODI World Cup -winning captain, became prime minister in 2018 on a ticket promising to block the dynastic families that have historically ruled Pakistan, and to end corrosive corruption.
He was ousted by a vote of no confidence in April as the economy languished and he lost the backing of the all-powerful military, considered the kingmakers in the south Asian nation.
Since then Khan has campaigned for a snap election, with a series of raucous marches and rallies, while claiming he was pushed out of power in a conspiracy orchestrated by the United States.
Analysts say the assassination attempt and Khan’s accusations have pushed Pakistan into a “dangerous phase”.
“It is a perilous situation,” said academic and political analyst Tauseef Ahmed Khan, who is also a board member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
Vehicles escort former prime minister Imran Khan, who was wounded after a shooting incident on a long march in Wazirabad, heading to his residence after being discharged from Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, in Lahore yesterday. (Reuters)