Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan was shot in the foot at a rally Thursday, according to an official from his party, which said the incident was an assassination attempt.
A bullet hit Khan in his foot after a gunman opened fire, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Asad Umar said.
The former Pakistan cricket captain was taken from the rally site just outside the town of Gujranwala to receive treatment in Lahore, around a two-and-a-half-hour drive away.
Khan is in a stable condition and undergoing surgery, according to Senator Fawad Chaudhry, a senior PTI politician and Khan’s former information minister.
Six others were injured and are still being treated, Chaudhry said.
Police said they detained a man suspected of firing shots at the rally. The male suspect was arrested with a 9mm pistol and two empty magazines, police said.
At least one person was killed in the incident, according to Faisal Javed, a senior PTI politician and close Khan ally who received a wound to the head in the attack. The victim’s name has not been released.
In a video statement Javed, who can be seen sitting up while receiving treatment, said: “Please pray for us, for Imran Khan, pray for our fellow workers who are severely injured and pray for our party member who has died and is martyred.”
Protests broke out across Pakistan in support of Khan, including in the capital Islamabad as well as in Peshawar. Khan was on the seventh day of a nationwide rally tour calling for elections to be brought forward from August next year.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who came to power after Khan lost a parliamentary vote of no confidence in April, condemned Thursday’s attack on his political rival on Twitter.
“I condemn the incident of firing on PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the strongest words,” Sharif wrote, adding that he has asked for an “immediate report on the incident” and will pray for the recovery of those injured.
“Violence should have no place in our country’s politics,” Sharif wrote.
On October 21, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) recommended that Khan be disqualified from holding political office for five years, a move likely to further inflame political tensions in the country.
While reading out the recommendation, ECP chief Sikandar Sultan Raja stated that Khan was disqualified for being involved in “corrupt practices.”
The commission said its decision was based on the grounds that Khan had “made false statements” regarding the declaration of the sale of gifts sent to him by the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Dubai while in office – an offense that is illegal under the country’s constitution.
Khan was unseated in a vote of no-confidence following claims of bad governance and economic mismanagement.
Since then he has repeatedly claimed, without providing any evidence, that the United States had orchestrated his ouster. Khan’s allegations have become a staple at rallies he has held across Pakistan in a bid to return to power.
His claims have struck a chord with a young population in a country where anti-American sentiment runs high, and anti-establishment feelings are being fueled by a rising cost of living crisis.
This is not the first time that Pakistani politicians have been attacked.
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007, and then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani survived an assassination attempt in 2008.