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Imran Khan Hitman Says…

Imran Khan Hitman Says…

Shoot Imran Khan! Save Pakistan!

“Shoot Imran Khan! Save Pakistan!” This is what the shooter is saying in defense of what he did. If killing a single person would have solved a country’s problems, we would not be seeing what we saw yesterday during Imran Khan’s march towards the capital Islamabad to demand an early national election.

Almost 15 years ago, Pakistan’s most popular politician, Benazir Bhutto was killed at a political rally, just weeks before elections that she was expected to win. When news came in late Thursday evening that former prime minister Imran Khan — now unquestionably Pakistan’s dominant political figure — had been shot at a political rally, it was hard not to recall the turmoil following Bhutto’s assassination.

The attack on Khan will likely put any political equilibrium out of reach for years. Khan, ousted as prime minister earlier this year, was in the middle of a “long march” meant to drum up support for early elections. His supporters already felt hard done by, blaming Pakistan’s all-powerful “establishment” for Khan’s lost majority in parliament. The attack on their leader might turn their anger into permanent resentment.


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A post shared by Imran Khan (@imrankhan.pti)

Sharif quickly condemned the shooting, which killed one person and injured seven others, and offered assistance to local authorities leading the investigation. But an outpouring of sympathy for Khan in cities around the country and on social media is only set to put more pressure on the prime minister and the military, which has directly ruled Pakistan for almost half of the period since the country’s independence from Britain in 1947.

The shooting complicates the calculus of the military establishment, which backed Khan’s rise to power in 2018 before a falling out last year. Any future attacks on Imran Khan, or attempts to deny his participation in the next election, would put the spotlight on generals who prefer to stay in the background while wielding outsized influence over domestic and foreign policy matters in Pakistan.

The risk of political unrest and more bloodshed threatens to further hurt Pakistan’s economy, which is already reeling from the worst floods in its history while seeking more funds from multilateral lenders and donor nations to shore up its ailing finances. Sharif, who met with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week, has sought to bolster ties with all major powers including the US after Imran Khan pushed the nation further toward Beijing and Moscow.

The next few days will be crucial to determining whether Khan and his PTI supporters can rally enough public support to force Sharif and the military to meet his demands. We just hope this does not become any more bloody than what it already is.

And again, killing a person or a politician like Imran Khan will not save Pakistan from its visible demise, it may in fact simply hasten it.

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