Shootout at Wazirabad

Imran Khan’s shooting was not a one-off, but a sort of culmination, as the Long March had been spattered with blood, if not quite bloodstained. As a matter of fact, I’m not all that sure that Imran was shot at all,

For a start, he has not had a medico-legal examination conducted. That means there’s no piece of paper which would tell any court of his injuries. Then there was his appearance on television, reclining on a sort of bed, with his leg in plaster. Shouldn’t his leg have been encased in bloodstained bandages? As a matter of fact, he should have had his head wrapped up in bandages. Also, throughout his TV appearance, he didn’t cough even once. Now if you’ve been shot in the leg, why should you cough? Perhaps for the same reason they put plaster on a leg when there was no bone broken.

The problem with his not having an MLE done, and thus a case registered, is that the murder case of the PTI worker who was killed in the firing, has also not been registered. That case can’t be registered, even after the autopsy on the body would show that there was indeed a death by shooting, but it would be inextricably linked with the FIR registered against Imran’s attackers.

Imran said three people were responsible: PM Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and ISI DG-‘C’ Maj-Gen Faisal Naseer. I know he meant they had planned it, but the image is irresistible of Shehbaz crawling by the side of the bus, handing Rana Sanaullah the weapon with which the shooting was done, all under the general supervision of General Faisal, who would run up and down the container shouting encouraging remarks through a bullhorn.

There’s a problem with naming one’s political opponents. It all goes back to a discovery made by the Raj. It had imported in its Evidence Act the common-law assumption that someone would not lie on his deathbed. Thus the dying declaration was taken as conclusive evidence. But then British found that natives, even when under the shadow of death, would lie through their teeth, and name their enemies with gusto as being personally responsible for stabbing them. It was only after people thus named produced witnesses placing them miles away from the murder that the British realised that the natives were exploiting this loophole to get at their enemies. Thus the dying declaration was downgraded by being taken as conclusive evidence, to simple presumptive evidence, which needed other evidence to confirm it.

Besides, neither Imran nor anyone in the PTI has died. But even though Imran has survived, the spirit of nominating everyone he can seems to alive, with the result that Shehbaz and Rana Sana are in the exalted company of a lieutenant-general.

Even before the attempt on him, the Long March was claiming victims. A woman journalist was run over one day, a young passerby the other, not to forget that a cop died of a heart attack while on duty. Before the March, telejournalist Arshad Sharif was murdered in Kenya, then there was the audioclip released of former PTI minister Ali Amin Gandapur talking about bringing in arms and people to Islamabad. Unreliable sources have confirmed that he has been seen in the overcoat and full boots compulsory to all such talk.

It’s been a bad time for Imran, and not because the Long March has not drawn the expected crowds. Corruption is making a comeback. Lula da Silva beat Jair Bolsonaro, the sitting President, for the Brazilian Presidency. Lula had recently been in jail for corruption. Then the Israeli electorate, after its fourth election in five years, has returned Benjamin Netanyahu to power, after bringing him down. Netanyahu still faces the corruption charges that have dogged him for years now.




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