An assassination attempt was made on the former Prime Minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on November 3, this year when the party’s ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ [Real Freedom] March reached Wazirabad’s Allahwala Chowk. A suspect, standing in front of the container carrying the PTI chairman and senior party leaders, showered a volley of bullets with an automatic pistol.
In the incident, PTI supporter Muazzam Nawaz had lost his life, while 14 party leaders and workers were injured.
Imran Khan, who sustained multiple injuries in his leg, shifted to Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in Lahore.
In a bizarre turn of events, the leaked video of the shooter who was identified as Naveed Ahmed was arrested along with a pistol from the spot. Replying to police officers’ questions, the shooter said that he had only tried to kill Imran Khan who was misguiding people, citing that during the Long March, no break was observed for Azan.
Regarding another question— when he devised a plan to kill the PTI chief, he replied that he thought of it in the morning, and later changed his statement to “from the date this long march had set off from Lahore”. The culprit also claimed that he acted alone and planned the conspiracy himself.
Legal experts pointed out that offender’s video statements may affect the course of the investigation.
Punjab CM Ch Pervez Elahi took strict measures, including the suspension of the SHO and the whole police staff of the relevant police station for leaking the statement of the accused.
Former advocate general Ahmad Awais stated that releasing of the video to the media indicated “a deep conspiracy— this video was aimed at building a certain narrative in the minds of the masses— this was meant to give it a religious colour”.
Former IG Sarmad Saeed pointed out that the act would add confusion to this case.
Meanwhile, despite the strict action by the CM, police released another video of the assailant in which the shooter made fabricated allegations to justify his attack on Imran Khan.
While, after initial inquiry from the killer Naveed, police arrested two more suspects namely Waqas and Faisal, related to the firing on PTI Chairman Khan’s long march.
Some PTI leaders also revealed that multiple gunmen also targeted ex-PM Imran Khan from some height and he was hit by four bullets, while some mentioned two or three bullets. The hospital administration disclosed that the medical board operated on Imran Khan’s right leg, who suffered four injuries on the leg, and there was no bone damage.
Khan on November 6 was discharged, while the medical board advised him rest for ten days.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of the PDM remarked that he had his doubts over the attack, ballng the incident a “drama”, while some PDM leaders stated that Khan and PTI orchestrated this drama by themselves.
Terming it a conspiracy, PTI leaders, including Fawad Chaudhry said that it was “a well-planned assassination attempt on Imran Khan.”
Although various contradictions have been pointed out in this incident, which shows complications, yet reality remains that a murder attempt was made on Imran Khan. It raises various questions about the security lapse which needs attention.
Since former PM Khan started addressing anti-government public rallies after his ouster, various official and non-official entities had issued threat alerts. Khan was repeatedly intimated about the threat to his life by the federal government.
In this regard, a private TV channel pointed out on May 20 that high-profile security officials have informed Imran Khan’s Chief of Staff Shehbaz Gill about a possible attack on Khan.
Imran Khan had said in a public gathering in Sialkot on May 14 that a conspiracy was being hatched to kill him and that he has recorded a video statement which will be released if he was murdered.
According to a spokesman of the Interior Ministry, police and law enforcement agencies had already been directed to ensure security for him.
A newspaper report on June 21 said the Provincial Counter Terrorism Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had issued a threat alert about possible attack on Imran Khan.
Another private TV channel indicated on November 3 that in a classified letter, the CCPO Gujranwala expressed concerns regarding security issues overshadowing the Haqeeqi Azadi March two days earlier ND also warned of possible terrorist activity during the PTI political activities. The letter was forwarded to Chief Security Officer to Imran Khan, Lt Gen (retd) Asim and Security Coordinator to Imran Khan Shaneela Ali on November 1.
Besides, the threat alerts were issued also by Punjab Home Department, Intelligence Agencies, and Punjab IGP.
The CCPO asked Khan to use a bulletproof shield and bulletproof-shielded rostrum, during his address in Gujranwala.
Former PM Khan revealed on November 4: “I had already learned that there was a plan in place to kill me somewhere between Wazirabad and Gujrat”.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr Justice Umar Ata Bandial on November 7 ordered IGP Faisal Shahkar to register a FIR of a gun attack on PTI chairman Imran Khan within 24 hours. During the hearing, Chief Justice Bandial said to the IGP, “It’s been more than 90 hours but FIR has not been registered”—“the delay in FIR means evidence is being lost”.
But, the IGP informed the court that the provincial government was not allowing him to register the FIR.
Earlier, the PTI chief has allegedly said that three persons, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a senior military officer, were behind the failed assassination attempt on his life. He added that the FIR should be lodged against them.
And hinting towards the Punjab government, Khan stated: “Despite there being a coalition government, we have been unable to register the FIR of the (Wazirabad) attack for three days.”
Now, the report of FIR registration was submitted by the Punjab IGP to the Supreme Court. PTI leaders have rejected the FIR because it is without the names of the three people nominated by Imran Khan about the Wazirabad gun attack and decided to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
Notably, Imran Khan has directed his party workers to continue protesting against the failed murder attempt until the three “accused” resigned.
Recently, PM Shehbaz Sharif has sought constitution of a ‘full court commission’ of the apex court to probe into PTI chairman Imran Khan’s allegations for the assassination attempt on him.
Later, in a meeting presided over by the Premier, it was decided that in light of the statement of the ISPR given on November 4, the federal government would initiate legal action against Imran Khan and other PTI leaders for issuing false statements against the state and its institutions. The ISPR had rejected the baseless and irresponsible accusations by the PTI chairman against the military.
PM Shehbaz and some other leaders of the PML(N) and those of the PPP said that Imran Khan is inciting the people for violence in wake of murder attempt, provoking his party’s workers and general masses against the Army, and that he wants civil war in the country.
Now, PTI workers have been distorting the Army’s image in such a way that general masses should forget the armed forces’ sacrifices and services rendered for the country.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi stated that his party’s long march for early elections from Wazirabad will now commence on November 10. And PTI chief Imran Khan said that he would not join in person, while he recovered from his wounds, would do so when the convoy reaches Rawalpindi, which is expected in the next 10-14 days.
Nonetheless, some third elements such as Indian intelligence agency RAW or some anti-Pakistan foreign entities can again target the long march by further widening the gulf between the Army and the PDM on one side, and the PTI supporters on the other, as it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. Hence, these agencies want to destabilize it. So, provision of foolproof security is mainly the responsibility of the Punjab government.