KARACHI: Former Pakistan cricket captain Wasim Akram escaped unhurt when bullets fired near his car grazed the vehicle following a traffic accident on Wednesday.
“A car crashed into my vehicle and when I asked him [the driver] to pull over, he stepped out and opened fire. His appearance resembled that of an official,” Akram told local media.
Akram's manager also confirmed that a car had intercepted the former captain's Mercedes.
“Wasim was driving himself and the car next to him tried to jam his car to one side and opened fire. He did not get hit,” Arsalan Haider, Akram's manager told ESPNCricinfo.
“It was a minor accident, I asked the driver of the car to stop but he accelerated at which I got a bit frustrated and chased that car,” said Akram while addressing a press conference later at the National Stadium.
“The driver of that car hit my car and blocked my way. A person stepped out from the back seat holding a gun and pointed it at me.
“Meanwhile, the traffic had stopped and someone from the crowd recognised me, after which the person fired at the tyre of my vehicle and left the scene in haste,” narrated Akram.
Akram said road rage was normal, but added that settling disputes with weapons was uncalled for. “I have shared all details with the police and am confident they will apprehend the culprit.”
Bahadurabad police on Wednesday night registered FIR (218/2015) against unknown suspects under Sections 324 (attempt to murder), 337-H (2) (rash or negligent driving), 427 (mischief causing damage) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code, said SHO Imdad Ali.
Akram, who is currently conducting a fast bowling camp at Karachi's National Stadium, was on his way to a training session when his car was hit.
According to police, there were several cars involved in the crash but Akram said his car had been deliberately targeted.
Speaking to the media outside the National Stadium, Deputy Inspector General East Munir Sheikh said the episode was a clear case of road rage.
“According to preliminary investigation, the incident appears to be a case of road rage. But we cannot say clearly what the motive behind the attack on Wasim Akram was. We have identified the car from CCTV footage and will have the suspect in custody in a couple of hours,” Sheikh said.
“It was an incident of road age,” said Sheikh.
Wasim Akram visited the office of DIG East and recorded his statement before the police.
Police raid house in DHA
Soon after the incident, police announced that a raid was conducted on a house situated on DHA's Khayaban-e-Hilal during which the vehicle identified by Wasim Akram had been recovered.
Police raided a bungalow in Defence area of Karachi, and recovered a car with the same number plate as the one reportedly involved in the traffic spat earlier.
Although the number plate is the same, the colour of the car is different from the one that was involved in the incident involving Wasim Akram, said Gulshan SP Qaimkhani.
“Either the number plates on the other car were forged or the car in question was sold earlier; we are waiting for clarification,” said SP Qaimkhani.
The owners of the bungalow were not present at the premises, and police has not taken anyone into custody.
Further clarification has been sought from the owners of the vehicle.
'Akram chased the vehicle'
Gulshan SP Abid Qaimkhani said that after the car accident, Akram chased the passengers travelling in the car and blocked their vehicle. "An exchange of hot words ensued between Mr. Akram and others. All of a sudden, one of the passengers in the car opened fire, [a bullet] hit Wasim’s Mercedes," he said.
"Later on, one of them identified the former captain of the Pakistan cricket team and asked the others to run. It was not an act of terror or attempt on life of the former player," he added.
Love for a cricketing legend
As news of the incident broke on television channels, former and current cricketing stars along with fans took to the social media to express their relief that Akram is safe.
Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah expressed shock and outrage over the altercation and took notice of the firing incident involving Wasim Akram and sought a detailed report from Inspector General Sindh Police.
The 49-year-old Akram, regarded as one of the best left-arm paceman to have played the game, is training around 20 young bowlers from across the country in a Pakistan Cricket Board talent hunt.
Akram was plucked from obscurity during a similar talent hunt in 1984 and rose to enormous heights at international level, taking 414 Test and 502 one-day wickets during an illustrious career.
— Imtiaz Ali contributed to the reporting of this story