Imran Khan blames Pakistan establishment for plot to assassinate him


Islamabad, Pakistan
CNN

Tensions rose in Pakistan on Friday as former Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed establishment figures for a plot to kill him – a claim vehemently denied by governance and security officials.

A day after he survived a shooting at a political rally outside the town of Gujranwala, Punjab province, Khan gave a rambling speech at a hospital in the city of Lahore where he was recovering from his injuries. While sitting in a wheelchair, the politician turned cricket star identified three senior figures as being behind the attack.

The former leader of Pakistan suffered a fracture to his right leg due to stray bullet wounds, Dr. Faisal Sultan told reporters. Sultan showed X-rays showing the cut in Khan’s right leg, and bullet fragments lodged in both sides of his thigh.

Without offering evidence, Khan blamed Prime Minister Shabaz Sharif, interior minister Rana Sanaullah and Major General Faisal, who is a senior intelligence officer. CNN is reaching out to all three men for comment.

Khan first claimed on Thursday that the trio was behind the plot, in a statement shared by senior PTI leader Asad Umar, who said he had spoken to Khan recently.

In a televised address on Thursday, Sanaullah rejected the charge, calling it “serious.”

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The media wing of the Pakistani military condemned Khan’s claims on Friday, calling them “baseless and irresponsible allegations” and threatened legal action.

“No one is allowed to defame the organization or its soldiers with impunity. Keeping this in mind, the government of Pakistan has been requested to investigate the matter and initiate legal action against those responsible for defamation and false accusations against the organization and its officials without any evidence whatsoever,” said the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) .

Pakistan’s intelligence agency also refuted Khan’s claims that a senior intelligence officer was behind the shooting, with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) telling CNN in a statement that the accusations were “baseless basis.”

“This is an attempt to prejudice the investigation from the outset. The organization had already sensitized the federal government about the threat to the former prime minister, which had conveyed this to the provincial government of Punjab,” the statement read.

Pictured is Pakistan's former leader, Imran Khan, at a rally earlier in the week.

The ISI also said that Khan’s security is under the authority of the Punjab provincial government, which is led by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

“The shooting incident is a security lapse on the part of the Punjab government and cannot be attributed to any individual or any security agency. The need of the hour is for calm in the country and not for irresponsible statements,” the ISI said in a statement.

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Khan had said that he knew about the plot to kill him a day before it happened, and claimed that two snipers were involved in his attack.

“There was a burst from one side, and another coming from the front. There were two people,” Khan said while talking about the attack.

Khan has locked horns with the government since his dramatic ouster in a no-confidence vote in April. During that time, he has repeatedly claimed, without any evidence, that the United States was behind his loss of power.

One person died in Thursday’s attack that injured several others and sparked protests among Khan’s supporters.

A video of the alleged attack shows Khan waving off an open-top truck, when shots rang out, sending members of his party ducking for cover.

A bullet hit Khan in the leg, said senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umar, who later added: “Yes, he has been shot, pellets are lodged in his leg, his bone chipped, he’s also been shot in the thigh.”

A man who is suspected of firing shots at the rally was taken into custody on Thursday, according to the police.

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On Thursday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Information released a video confession from an unnamed man it claims carried out the attack.

Khan called on citizens to protest against the three officers he claims planned his attack until they resign.

“As long as these three men do not resign, you have to protest, against injustice, you have to do jihad against them, jihad means standing against injustice,” Khan said on Friday.

Khan said as soon as he recovers from his shooting attack he will resume his so-called Long March to Islamabad calling for early elections. He was on the seventh day of the tour across the country, which started in Lahore on October 28 and was supposed to end in Islamabad after winding through several Pakistani cities.

It is among a number of rallies the former Pakistan cricket captain has held since he was axed in April.

Thursday’s incident is not the first time Pakistani politicians have been attacked.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007, and then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani survived an assassination attempt in 2008.

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