Protests erupted across Pakistan on Thursday after an assassination attempt on former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was leading a march through the c
Protests erupted across Pakistan on Thursday after an assassination attempt on former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was leading a march through the capital Islamabad.
Thousands of Khan’s supporters took to the streets to protest the attack in small and major cities across the country, including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Gujranwala and Peshawar.
Khan accused the country’s current premier Shehbaz Sharif of being involved in the attempt to assassinate him after he was shot in the leg during a rally.
Khan’s shocking claim comes as video showed the terrifying moment the politician took cover as he was shot and wounded at the rally.
Footage showed Khan standing at the front of an open top container truck during a protest march to demand snap elections when a gunman fired at the politician with an automatic pistol.
As the sound of bullets filled the air, a shocked Khan, 70, tried to take cover but he was shot in the leg. Khan’s team quickly surrounded him, as people in the crowd could be heard screaming.
Injured former Pakistan PM Imran Khan is escorted into a room by aides shortly after the failed assassination attempt In Islamabad yesterday
Supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan shout slogans during a protest after Khan was shot at near Wazirabad, in Karachi
Former PM Khan remains a popular figures among Pakistan’s masses, with many taking to the streets in support of him after the failed assassination attempt
Thousands of Khan’s supporters took to the streets to protest the attack in small and major cities across the country
Throngs of activists took to Pakistan’s streets as Khan accused the country’s current premier Shehbaz Sharif of being involved in the attempt to assassinate him
Many protesters had seen the dramatic footage video which showed the terrifying moment Khan took cover as he was shot and wounded at the rally
Activists raised their hands and shouted in the streets of Peshawar in a unified show of support for former PM Khan
‘This was an attempt to kill Khan, to assassinate him,’ his senior aide, Raoof Hasan, said, as protesters poured out on to the streets in some parts of the country and his supporters demanded justice
The violent footage from the scene shows the suspected gunman firing a burst of shots at Khan. A second man is seen trying to wrestle the gun from the would-be assassin, as the gunman tries to escape before being arrested.
Khan’s ex-wife, British socialite and screenwriter Jemima Goldsmith, tweeted a picture of the man who wrestled the shooter, hailing him as a ‘hero’.
Goldsmith, who has two sons Kasim and Sulaiman Isa with Khan, said: ‘The news we dread. Thank God he’s okay. And thank you from his sons to the heroic man in the crowd who tackled the gunman.’
Video later shows Khan wearing a bandage on his leg, waving to supporters after getting shot before he was helped down from an open top container truck and placed carefully into a vehicle.
The politician was rushed to the Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore where surgeons are now removing bullet fragments from his leg. One of Khan’s supporters was killed in the attack, while nine others were wounded.
‘This was an attempt to kill Khan, to assassinate him,’ his senior aide, Raoof Hasan, said, as protesters poured out on to the streets in some parts of the country and his supporters demanded justice.
Khan began his march last week as part of his campaign aimed at forcing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his government to hold snap elections after he was ousted following a no confidence vote.
Khan, who has also been a vocal critic of Pakistan’s powerful military for supporting the current PM, accused Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Major General Faisal of being behind the attack.
It comes after the gunman was arrested at the scene, and police later released a video of him in custody, allegedly confessing to the shooting and saying he acted alone.
‘He (Khan) was misleading the people, and I couldn’t bear it so I attempted to kill him,’ said the suspect, identified as Faisal Butt. ‘I tried my best to kill him. I wanted to kill Imran Khan only and no one else.’
Video shows Khan standing at the front of an open top container truck during a protest march to demand snap elections when a gunman fired at the politician with an automatic pistol
Video later shows Khan wearing a bandage on his leg being helped through a room after shooting
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is helped after he was shot in the shin in Wazirabad
Footage from the scene also appears to show the gunman shooting towards Khan’s convoy. A second man (right) is seen trying to wrestle the gun from the shooter, but he manages to escape
Video grabs show the moment the suspected gunman was arrested by police, as a crowd of Khan’s supporters tried to hit him
A crowd of Khan’s supporters try and hit the suspected gunman after he opened fire on the former Prime Minister
The gunman was arrested at the scene, and police later released a video of him in custody, allegedly confessing to the shooting and saying he acted alone. ‘Only Imran Khan was my target,’ said the suspect, identified as Faisal Butt. ‘He (Khan) was misleading the people, and I couldn’t bear it.’
Among the wounded was Faisal Javed, a lawmaker from Tehreek-e-Insaf. In a video statement, with blood staining his clothes, Javed said Khan’s protest march to Islamabad would not stop
One person was killed in the attack (pictured) and nine others were wounded after the gunman opened fire in district in the Wazirabad eastern Punjab province
Supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan shout slogans during a protest after Khan suffered bullet injuries near Wazirabad, in Karachi, Pakistan
Supporters of Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan, take part in a protest against the assassination attempt on Khan, outside the hospital where Khan is admitted, in Lahore on Thursday
Khan’s ex-wife, British screenwriter Jemima Goldsmith, tweeted a picture of the man who wrestled the shooter, describing him as a ‘hero’
Khan, who has also been a vocal critic of Pakistan’s powerful military for supporting the current PM, accused Sharif (pictured with Putin in September, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Major General Faisal of being behind the attack
Khan, who was married to British screenwriter Jemima Goldsmith for nine years before their divorce, was shot at as he stood alongside officials on the top of a modified container truck as it slowly drove through a thick crowd near Gujranwala.
One person was killed in the attack and nine others were wounded after the gunman opened fire in district in the Wazirabad eastern Punjab province.
Goldsmith described the man who was killed in the attack as a ‘hero’ because he had tried to chase after the gunman when he was shot. ‘Condolences to his family,’ Goldsmith wrote.
Describing the attack, former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, who was standing behind Khan, said: ‘There was a guy who was in front of the container who had this automatic pistol. He fired a burst. Everyone who was standing in the very front row got hit.’
He said supporters in the crowd tried to snatch the gun from the attacker. ‘In that scuffle he missed the target. There was so much blood on the container.’
Among the wounded was Faisal Javed, a lawmaker from Tehreek-e-Insaf. In a video statement, with blood staining his clothes, Javed said Khan’s protest march to Islamabad would not stop.
Officials from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said Khan was being treated at a hospital in Lahore and was in stable condition.
Video published on social media shows Khan being in hospital with a bandage around his right calf.
In a tweet, Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi called it ‘a heinous assassination attempt’.
‘I thank Allah that he is safe but injured with few bullets in his leg & hopefully non-critical,’ he said.
Before Khan made the accusation that Sharif was behind the assassination attempt, the current PM ‘strongly condemned’ the attack.
‘I strongly condemn the firing at Imran Khan’s rally. An immediate report of the incident has been sought from the Interior Minister,’ he wrote on Twitter.
‘We pray for the speedy recovery of Imran and other injured.
‘The Federation will provide all possible support to the Punjab government in the security/investigation of the incident.
‘Violence should have no place in national politics.’
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been shot in the leg in an assassination attempt at a rally. He is seen here waving to fans after being shot
Footage from the scene also appears to shows a suspected gunman (left in circle wearing a black top) shooting towards Khan’s convoy. A second man (in a blue and red top in cicle) is seen trying to wrestle the gun from the shooter, but he manages to escape.
The shooter manages to escape but a huge crowd chase him down the street
Supporters of Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, chant slogans as they block a road during a protest to condemn a shooting incident on their leader’s convoy, in Karachi, Pakistan, on Thursday
Supporters of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, chant slogans as they block a road during a protest to condemn a shooting incident on their leader’s convoy, in Karachi, Pakistan,
Supporters of Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan, take part in a protest against the assassination attempt on Khan, in Peshawar on Thursday
Supporters of Pakistan former Prime Minister Imran Khan, block a road following the shooting incident on his long march in Wazirabad, during a protest in Karachi, on Thursday
Police officers stand guard outside the Shaukat Khanum hospital where former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who suffered bullet injuries during a protest march near Wazirabad, is shifted to for treatment, in Lahore, Pakistan
Pakistan ‘s former Prime Minister Imran Khan (pictured yesterday at a different rally) has been shot in the leg in an assassination attempt at a rally
Khan, who was married to British screenwriter Jemima Goldsmith (pictured together in London in 2000) for nine years before their divorce, had been speaking at the rally when he was shot by the gunman
At the time of the shooting, Khan and his supporters had been travelling in a large convoy of trucks and cars heading towards the capital, Islamabad, as part of his campaign aimed at forcing the government to hold early elections after he was ousted from office this spring.
The attack raised new concerns about growing political instability in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation with a massive population of 225 million people.
Pakistan has a decades-long history of political assassinations, including that of Benazir Bhutto, the first democratically elected female leader of a Muslim country, in 2007.
The attack happened less than a week after Khan began his march from Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, along with thousands of supporters.
Each day during his so-called ‘long march’ 70 year-old Khan has mounted a shipping container towed by a lorry, making speeches from the open top to crowds of thousands in cities and towns along the way.
Since his ouster in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April, Khan has alleged that his ouster was a conspiracy engineered by his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and the United States – claims that both the new premier and Washington have denied.
Still, Khan – a former cricket star and national sports hero turned Islamist politician – remains a hugely popular figure and his convoy’s journey, expected to be capped with an open-ended rally in Islamabad, could present a significant challenge to the new administration.
Khan has also been a vocal critic of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment for supporting the current Sharif.
‘We are not sheep, we are human beings and no one is going to accept neither the imported thieves of this government nor their facilitators,’ Khan lashed out during a speech Saturday.
Khan has promised his march will remain peaceful and aimed at forcing Sharif to call early elections – but his attempted assassination attempt shows just how divided the nation is.
The prime minster has repeatedly declined this call for early elections, saying parliamentary elections will take place as scheduled in 2023.
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 premier.
Khan, who has challenged the disqualification in a pending court case, has said he would sue Chief Election Commissioner Sikandara Raja, who was behind the decision, for calling him a ‘dishonest person.’
It was also not immediately known if Khan’s convoy would proceed on to Islamabad. Earlier, Fawad Chaudhry, a senior leader in Khan’s party, said they plan to enter Islamabad on Friday.
The attack comes at a time when impoverished Pakistan is grappling with the aftermath of unprecedented floods that struck this Islamic nation over the summer, killing 1,735 people and displacing 33 million.
From partying playboy to pious PM: As Imran Khan cheats death, how the cricket star ditched London nightclubs (and his many glamorous girlfriends) to become a devout leader of Pakistan
By Jack Newman for MailOnline
He was once a fixture on the dancefloors of London, never far from his latest squeeze who he rattled through as quickly as the terrorised batsmen he faced down throughout his cricketing career.
But Imran Khan the lothario playboy soon became Imran Khan the devout politician as he dedicated himself to public service in his home country of Pakistan.
Today, the former prime minister’s political ambition nearly cost him his life as he survived an assassination attempt during an anti-government rally.
The 70-year-old was shot in the shin with an AK-47 while in an open-top vehicle on a protest march to demand snap elections, six months after he was ousted from power.
The Oxford educated star was driven from office by what an aide at the time called a judicial coup by the Supreme Court, which overturned the his decision to dissolve parliament and ordered lawmakers to return to the lower chamber. He lost a subsequent no confidence vote.
But that has not stopped his popularity among millions of Pakistanis who are fighting to see their hero return to office.
Imran Khan was one of London’s most eligible bachelors, dating a number of high profile women including fashion model Marie Helvin (left) and marrying Jemima Goldsmith (right)
The firebrand nationalist’s fame and charisma saw him come to power in Pakistan in 2018 (pictured at a 1997 election rally)
The sportsman grabbed the cricketing world’s attention in the early 1970s as an aggressive fast-paced bowler with a distinctive leaping action (pictured at the Oval in 1987)
Born in 1952, the son of a civil engineer, Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi described himself as a shy child who grew up with four sisters in an affluent urban Pashtun family in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-biggest city.
He was then privately educated in England, before he went on to the University of Oxford where he graduated with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
The sportsman grabbed the cricketing world’s attention in the early 1970s as an aggressive fast-paced bowler with a distinctive leaping action.
He went on to become one of the world’s best all-rounders and a hero in cricket-mad Pakistan, captaining his team to an unlikely World Cup victory in 1992.
As his cricket career flourished, the handsome casanova developed a playboy reputation in London in the late 1970s.
Khan was a regular at the socialite’s haven Tramp in Mayfair while playing for Sussex.
The cricketing star is pictured in 1987 beside the Marquis of Worcester at a Valentino party at Annabel’s club in London
Princess Diana is pictured alongside Imran and Jemima Khan during a tour of Pakistan in May 1997
As his cricket career flourished, the handsome casanova developed a playboy reputation in London in the late 1970s (pictured with Marie Helvin)
His home was a Knightsbridge flat that boasted a mirrored dining room and canopied bedroom with a painted tiger on the wall.
One visitor called it: ‘A bedroom of great expectations.’
Khan’s female friends included girls-about-town such as Susannah Constantine (who had dated Princess Margaret’s son Viscount Linley), Lady Liza Campbell and society artist Emma Sergeant.
As his friend, the model Marie Helvin sighed: ‘Everyone falls for Imran. He has a scent that is very attractive to women.’
A regular in gossip columns, always linked to some new beauty, Khan was defiant about his lifestyle, telling a 1984 interviewer: ‘In Pakistan you just don’t meet single girls. There are no discos, no bars, no meeting places.’
While he dated many stars including Goldie Hawn and Stephanie Beacham, many girlfriends were unknown and were referred to as ‘mysterious blondes’ by The Times.
Meeting women was among ‘the very decadent pleasures in life which I enjoy,’ Khan said.
But Khan claimed he rediscovered his faith in the mid 1990s, a shock to many who had witnessed his party antics throughout his life.
In 1995, he married Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of business tycoon James Goldsmith.
In 1995, he married Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of business tycoon James Goldsmith (pictured after their civil wedding ceremony in Richmond in 1995)
Jemima, who had another son, Qasim in 1999, began making trips to London to finish the degree she’d started at Bristol (pictured in London in 1999)
Khan’s female friends included girls-about-town such as Susannah Constantine (pictured together)
The then 42-year-old proposed to the 20-year-old Bristol student on their second date.
Goldsmith, who was raised as a Christian and has Jewish background via her father, was an unlikely match for the star with burgeoning political ambitions back home.
But within a few weeks they had married — she converted to Islam, learned Urdu and moved to Islamabad.
Photos then emerged of the couple making love on a poolside of a Mallorcan villa.
But as a favour to the Goldsmith family, the editor of Hello! Magazine bought them up and they were never published.
Jemima soon gave birth to her first son, Sulaiman Isa Khan, and was living in a compound in Lahore with Imran’s extended family.
There was no washing machine and she was said to find the food so repellent that she was existing on chocolate bars.
Jemima was presented to her husband’s countrymen at a rally in Peshawar, and made a speech in Urdu, asking women to vote in the elections. Witnesses said her legs trembled throughout.
A second brief marriage to BBC weather girl Reham Nayyar Khan (pictured) also ended in divorce after just ten months together
The divorced mother of three met him in 2012 after she moved to Pakistan and interviewed him for a television news channel
The party did not win a single seat in that election, and only one in 2004. It was becoming clear that the very fact that Imran Khan had married a woman of Jewish extraction was to be used against him.
‘In the beginning, the idea was that we would campaign together,’ he said. ‘But I had to pull her out of politics to shield her from it. That is when our problems began because we were spending time apart. That then exacerbated the problems of a cross-cultural marriage and she inevitably missed her friends, family and home more than she might have.’
Jemima, who had another son, Qasim in 1999, began making trips to London to finish the degree she’d started at Bristol.
She then decided to do a Masters in Middle East politics, which again meant spending time in London. Relieved to be free of the constraints of her life as a political wife, Jemima also needed to physically recover from the continuous attacks of gastroenteritis which plagued her in Pakistan.
With Imran spending three weeks of each month away from home, engaged in politics and charity fundraising, she had become demoralised and lonely.
For the final two years of the marriage, Jemima was based in England, and in 2004 they called time on the union.
His third marriage to Bushra Bibi, a spiritual leader whom Khan had come to know during his visits to a 13th century shrine in Pakistan, reflected his deepening interest in Sufism
Khan claimed he rediscovered his faith in the mid 1990s, a shock to many who had witnessed his party antics throughout his life. He has now married devout Muslim Bushra Bibi (pictured)
‘I think she gave up,’ Khan mused. ‘She thought it was a never-ending struggle and she didn’t believe I would make it.’
Nonetheless, they remain close, and Jemima is guardian to Khan’s daughter with Sita White, Tyrian.
A second brief marriage to BBC weather girl Reham Nayyar Khan also ended in divorce after just ten months together.
The divorced mother of three met him in 2012 after she moved to Pakistan and interviewed him for a television news channel.
After a second interview, he invited her to dinner, she said, telling her he had something important to discuss — and then proposed marriage.
Astonished, Reham accepted, but her disillusionment was swift. She claimed that he was so spoiled he did not know how to use a microwave oven or a cashpoint.
‘He’s the only celebrity we have in Pakistan and expects everyone to do everything. I told him: ‘You’re like Rapunzel in the tower — you have no connection to real life.’
‘He’s so narcissistic and single-minded about his goal [of becoming prime minister] that he forgets the appropriate emotional response to things. He thinks he’s God. I married him because I believed in him and his mission.’
In a self-published memoir, she sensationally claimed that Imran has fathered five children out of wedlock — something his advisers strenuously deny. Imran’s friends say her book is nothing more than ‘the ravings of an embittered ex’.
She wears a veil in front of men other than her husband and Khan did not see her face until after their wedding
The end of the marriage came after Imran apparently told her not to attend a political rally.
It was reported that she had hit him across the back of the head with an open hand during a disagreement over her political role.
Reham was notified of their Islamic divorce — talaq — by text and email seven days later.
One friend of Khan’s observed: ‘He thought he was getting Jackie Kennedy, but instead ended up with Hillary Clinton.’
His third marriage to Bushra Bibi, a spiritual leader whom Khan had come to know during his visits to a 13th century shrine in Pakistan, reflected his deepening interest in Sufism – a form of Islamic practice that emphasises spiritual closeness to God.
Because she wears a veil in front of men other than her husband, Khan did not see her face until after their wedding — although he had seen a photograph of her as a young woman.
‘I did not catch a glimpse of my wife’s face until after we were married . . . I was not disappointed, and now am happily married,’ he said, adding: ‘I have gradually realised that although I know more about physical attraction, the mind and intellect are much more important than the physical. I have great respect for my wife’s intellect and character.’
Pakistan ‘s former Prime Minister Imran Khan (pictured yesterday at a different rally) has been shot in the leg in an assassination attempt at a rally
He also became known for his philanthropy, raising £22million to open a cancer hospital in memory of his mother, before entering politics with the establishment of his Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), or Pakistan Movement for Justice party, in 1996.
Despite his fame, the PTI languished in Pakistan’s political wilderness, not winning a seat other than Khan’s for 17 years.
Khan claimed he rediscovered his faith in the mid 1990s, a shock to many who had witnessed his party antics throughout his life.
This period had its dramatic moments, however. In 2007, Khan escaped house arrest by leaping over a wall amid a crackdown on opposition figures by then-military ruler General Pervez Musharraf.
In 2011, Khan began drawing huge crowds of young Pakistanis disillusioned with endemic corruption, chronic electricity shortages and crises in education and unemployment.
He drew even greater backing in the ensuing years, with educated Pakistani expatriates leaving their jobs to work for his party and pop musicians and actors joining his campaign.
His goal, Khan told supporters in 2018, was to turn Pakistan from a country with a ‘small group of wealthy and a sea of poor’ into an ‘example for a humane system, a just system, for the world, of what an Islamic welfare state is’.
That year he was at long last victorious, marking a rare ascension by a sporting hero to the pinnacle of politics. Observers cautioned, however, that his biggest enemy was his own rhetoric, having raised supporters’ hopes sky high.
Once in power, Khan embarked on his plan of building a ‘welfare’ state modelled on what he said was an ideal system dating back to the Islamic world some 14 centuries earlier.
His government made a number of key appointments based on qualifications and not political favours and sought to reform hiring in the bureaucracy and civil service.
Other measures included making it easier for citizens to lodge complaints and the introduction of universal healthcare for the poor in one province, with plans to expand the programme nationally. The government also began a project to plant 10 billion trees to reverse decades of deforestation.
To bolster a crippled economy, Khan made a significant U-turn in policy and secured an IMF bailout for Pakistan and set lofty, albeit unmet goals, to expand tax collection.
But his anti-corruption drive was heavily criticised as a tool for sidelining political opponents – many of whom were imprisoned on charges of graft.
Pakistan’s generals also remained powerful and military officers, retired and serving, were placed in charge of more than a dozen civilian institutions.