December 4, 2022

ISLAMABAD — Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan left hospital on Sunday, a senior aide said, three days after he was shot in the legs in a failed assassination attempt.

The shooting – and Khan’s allegation that his successor, Shehbaz Sharif, was involved – have significantly raised the political temperature in a country that has been boiling since his ouster in April.

Former Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told AFP that Khan had been “dismissed” and a local TV station showed him wearing a blue hospital gown as he left the Lahore clinic in a wheelchair.

Khan, 70, was injured by shots fired at his open container truck while leading a political party convoy through dense crowds in the eastern city of Wazirabad on Thursday.

A man is in custody following the attack, which government officials said was the work of a lone gunman and “a very clear case of religious extremism.”

In an apparent confession video released by police to the media, the sole suspect said he tried to kill Khan because his convoy interrupted the call to prayer calling Muslims to mosques.

However, Khan insists two gunmen were involved and spoke to reporters from the hospital on Friday that Sharif, Home Minister Rana Sanaullah and a senior intelligence officer were behind the conspiracy.

The government and military have dismissed these claims as lies and fabrications and have threatened to sue Khan for defamation.

Khan, a former cricket superstar, became prime minister in 2018 with a ticket that promised to block the dynastic families that have historically ruled Pakistan and end corrosive corruption.

He was ousted by a no-confidence vote in April as the economy faltered and he lost the support of the all-powerful military, seen as the kingmaker in the South Asian nation.

Since then, Khan has campaigned for snap elections with a series of vocal marches and rallies and claims he was ousted from power in a US-orchestrated conspiracy.

Analysts say the assassination and Khan’s allegations have pushed Pakistan into a “dangerous phase”.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” said academic and political analyst Tauseef Ahmed Khan, who is also a board member of Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission.

“Not only for the democratic process, but also for the country.” — Agence France-Presse