Pakistan: Assassination attempt on ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan – Politics

Pakistan: Assassination attempt on ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan – Politics

The bullets were supposed to kill, there is now little doubt about that. Imran Khan, cricket legend, ex-prime minister and most popular opposition figure in Pakistan, was shot in the leg by an assailant during a protest by his PTI party on Thursday in the city of Wazirabad in Punjab province. One person died in the attack and seven others were injured, police said.

It is further explosive news for the crisis state of Pakistan, in which so many problems are piling up: the violence of religious extremists, political chaos, mountains of debt, a sluggish economy and the consequences of a massive flood that is completely overwhelming the country and its 230 million inhabitants . And now the assassination attempt on Khan. The storms lashing the South Asian nuclear power are likely to intensify after this act of targeted political violence.

Analysts have warned in recent weeks that the mood in the country is becoming increasingly polarized. A lot of anger and distrust has built up against the government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, which many see as a symbol of a political class that only thinks about itself and doesn’t take the needs of the people seriously enough.

Khan is in protest mode, appearing in front of thousands almost everywhere

Imran Khan was overthrown in April by a controversial vote of no confidence. Since then he has been trying to push his successor before him with protests, vehemently demanding new elections. At the same time, with his sharp rhetoric, he himself is making a significant contribution to heating up the mood in Pakistan. He is in protest mode, which further fuels his popularity, especially among young Pakistanis. The attack on him also shows how much this politician is endangered in everyday life. Almost everywhere he performs in front of thousands of people without any special safety precautions.

Prime Minister Sharif, the army and other country leaders publicly condemned the attack on Khan. It is not yet clear who is behind the crime. A video of a bearded man circulating in Pakistan purportedly shows the assassin making a statement to the police; he acted alone and wanted to kill Khan because he was misleading the people, says the man in this much-quoted scene. the Southgerman newspaper could not initially verify the authenticity of the video.

Khan is now being treated in a hospital in Lahore. Some Pakistani media reports that two attackers were at the scene, one was shot and the second was taken into police custody.

Political assassinations have a long and traumatic history in southern Asia. In India, prime ministers Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv were killed by attacks by extremists. In Pakistan, an attacker killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto at an election rally on December 27, 2007, and the perpetrator fired several shots before he blew himself up. How exactly Bhutto died has not been clearly clarified to this day.

Niels Hegewisch, who, as the office manager of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation in Pakistan, is observing the situation closely, commented on the situation when asked by the SZ: “Looking at the development of the last few weeks, with increasing polarization and rhetorical escalation, there have been violent incidents more likely. It is unclear how things will continue. The situation is likely to deteriorate further in view of the forthcoming appointment of the new army chief.” The term of office of the powerful military chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, comes to an end this month, and nervousness is growing until it is clarified who will succeed him.

US President Joe Biden fueled the smoldering debate over Pakistan’s security in October when he classified the South Asian state as one of the most dangerous countries in the world – one “with nuclear weapons and without cohesion”.

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