Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was shot and injured as he spoke during a protest march outside the town of Gujranwala on Thursday. Khan, who was rushed to the hospital after the incident, has been attempting to mount a political comeback after being ousted from power in April.
As Khan spoke to his supporters from the back of a truck, a gunman in the crowd opened fire. According to multiple media reports, the former PM was either hit in the foot or the leg.
Khan was rushed to a hospital in Lahore, around 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. One of Khan’s aides, Raoof Hasan, told AFP that the former leader is in “stable condition.”
“This was an attempt to kill him, to assassinate him,” Hasan added. A suspect has been arrested, Pakistan’s Geo TV reported shortly afterwards.
Khan is a former cricketer who served as Pakistan’s prime minister from 2018 until his removal from office after a no-confidence motion in April this year. Khan built economic and diplomatic relations with Russia and China, and claimed that his removal was orchestrated by the US with the goal of installing a more compliant leader.
Khan was charged with terror-related offenses in August for threatening to take “action”against allegedly corrupt police officials, although a court in Islamabad later dropped the charges. Last month, the Election Commission of Pakistan barred Khan from running or serving as a member of parliament for five years, claiming that the ex-PM had failed to properly report gifts received while in office. Khan, who still leads the PTI party, insists he is being persecuted on political grounds.
Thursday’s shooting took place a week into a protest march led by Khan from Lahore to Islamabad. Stopping to hold rallies along the route, the PTI leader has been demanding fresh elections, buoyed by his party’s victories in six out of eight by-elections it contested last month.