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This article was first published 1 year ago  » News » Who Benefits From Imran Khan Attack?

Who Benefits From Imran Khan Attack?

November 04, 2022 17:34 IST
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The rather amateurish, even ham-handed, attack would lend some credence to a 'false flag' theory, of the PTI leadership staging this incident, to provide new impetus to a flagging agitation, notes Rana Banerji, who headed the Pakistan desk at RA&W, India's external intelligence agency.

IMAGE: Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan gestures to his supporters during the long march to pressure the government to announce new elections in Lahore, October 28, 2022. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

On November 3 afternoon, a 'lone wolf' gunman, Naveed s/o Basheer fired on former prime minister Imran Khan's vehicle at Allahwala Chowk, Wazirabad, in Gujrat district in Punjab, Pakistan, injuring Imran, who received bullet and sharpnel injuries on both his legs.

Apparently, a 9 mm pistol was used in the incident though doubts have been voiced about automatic assault weapons having been employed, possibly by more than one assailant.

Other Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf politicians standing close to Imran on the container vehicle, like Faisal Javed and Ahmed Nasir Chatha were seriously wounded with facial or stomach injuries.

As many as 14 persons were injured and one killed in the ensuing crossfire.

Naveed disclosed at the local police station that he was motivated to take this drastic step as he was disturbed by the manner in which Imran Khan was misleading common people.

He said he made up his mind as soon as the Long March was announced. He was unhappy also as azaan timings were being disregarded even as loud music blared at March venues.

When questioned later about how he acquired the weapon or ammunition for the attack, he gave rather vague and unconvincing answers.

The disclosure to the media of Naveed's statements or portions thereof within half an hour of his arrest was rather surprising and constituted grave professional misconduct on part of the concerned police personnel.

The PS falls under the home constituency of Punjab Chief Minister Pervez Elahi.

Federal government ministers did not fail to point this out, stressing that law and order remained a provincial responsibility.

There were intelligence reports suggesting possible attacks of this nature during the Long March, but these warnings were not heeded.

A PTI Senator, Ejaz Chaudhary, disclosed that he was aware of an imminent attack on the Long March at Wazirabad.

He had shared with local Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf politician Ahmed Nasir Chatha the night before.

By all accounts, security seemed lax around the container vehicle carrying PTI leaders. Counsel to install bulletproof screens was ignored.

This was the seventh day of the Long March. It had not been drawing as large crowds as had been anticipated at the planning stage.

In fact, only a core group of a few hundred diehard fans were moving with Imran's cavalcade and local PTI organisers were asked to join up, to avoid visual impact of thinning crowds.

Imran himself acknowledged this ebbing tide by remarking only a day before, that he would have to stay on in agitational mode in Islamabad during the next ten months, only after which he could hope for his demand for fresh elections to be conceded.

The judicial noose was also tightening, as remarks of the hitherto sympathetic Supreme Court Chief Justice Omar Ata Bandial in hearings on the alleged contempt case on violation of court orders during the May 25 demonstrations seemed to indicate.

Imran and his party had been forced into a cul de sac.

IMAGE: Imran being shifted to the Shaukat Khanum hospital in Lahore after a gunman opened fire during his protest march in Pakistan's Punjab province, November 3, 2022.

All this may now change. The attack on Imran Khan will add to the sympathy wave for the PTI and benefit Imran politically.

Though former information minister, Fawad Chaudhry has claimed that the Long March will continue, this would depend on how quickly Imran recuperates from his leg injury.

Without his physical presence, the Long March may peter out.

Reports from the Shaukat Khanum hospital, Lahore, where Imran is being treated indicate, he may be discharged soon. He himself remains keen to resume the March, even in partially incapacitated mode.

Though the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military establishment's media wing, condemned the attack as did other senior politicians of the ruling party, Imran did not hesitate to raise the stakes of his anti-establishment tirade from his hospital bed, holding Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and the Director General, Counter Intelligence, Inter Services Intelligence, Major General Faisal Naseer responsible.

Angry PTI sympathisers resorted to protests in several cities.

Stones were pelted outside Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah's home in Faislabad.

A dharna was held outside the official residence of the XI Corps Commander in Peshawar, Lieutenant General Sardar Hassan Azhar Hayat Khan, who is known to be close to Pakistan army chief, General Javed Qamar Bajwa.

The deputy commissioner Islamabad was forced to issue sealing of movement orders in Punjab, under the Pakistan Anti Terrorism Act, 1958 quoting advice received from the ministry of defence vide a letter F No. 4(13)-Defence/ICT dated November 3, 2022, lest hordes of agitating PTI supporters from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan/Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Punjab descend on the federal capital.

IMAGE: People chant slogans as they condemn the shooting in Wazirabad, November 4, 2022. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

The rather amateurish, even ham-handed, attack in Wazirabad would lend some credence to a 'false flag' theory, of the PTI leadership staging this incident, to provide new impetus to a flagging agitation.

Other, more sinister motives cannot be ruled out, that the military establishment planned it as Imran Khan did not heed its October 27 warning to eschew his verbal attacks on them.

The timing of this incident will pose problems for the military leadership at this juncture of imminent transition.

General Bajwa is slated to retire as army chief on November 29.

On the same day, General Nadeem Raza, chairman, joint chiefs of staff committee, packs his boots.

Imran Khan's direct accusation against a serving major general suggests he remains hell bent to make the succession controversial, merely because he may have failed to play any role in it.

The new army chief will have to take credible damage control measures to ensure that the army's credibility as an institution is not damaged beyond repair.

He and his senior generals will have to take a call on whether they will allow Imran to return to the helm of civilian power whenever elections are held next.

A larger question looms -- whether the army will pay mere lip service to being neutral or continue to dabble in promoting new 'hybrid constructs' to sustain a democratic facade.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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