Imran insists 3 shooters involved in Wazirabad assassination bid, wants CJP-backed body to probe incident

Published January 5, 2023
Former prime minister Imran Khan in a televised address to the nation on January 5, 2023. — Screengrab
Former prime minister Imran Khan in a televised address to the nation on January 5, 2023. — Screengrab

Former prime minister Imran Khan on Thursday termed the Nov 3 attack on him in Wazirabad to be a “planned assassination attempt”, insisting that three shooters were involved in the incident.

Addressing the nation, the ex-premier — who is still recovering from his bullet injuries — called for a “powerful” body backed by the chief justice of Pakistan to probe the incident as he talked about the findings of the joint investigation team (JIT).

Last year in Nov, a PTI worker died and 14 others, including the former prime minister and PTI leaders, were injured in the attack at Wazirabad’s Allah­wala Chowk, where the party’s “Haqeeqi Azadi”’ march against the federal government had stopped on its way to Islamabad.

An official privy to the findings of the JIT earlier told Dawn that shots were fired by “three unknown shooters, from unknown weapons” from a considerable height other than the gun attack carried out by the suspect, Naveed Meher, arrested from the spot.

In his televised address, the PTI chairman said that “two to three people” were behind the plot to assassinate him. “I know that the country’s armed forces are giving sacrifices for the country […] but there are black sheep in every institution.

“But the person who planned this, I want them to cooperate with the JIT. Action should be taken against those deliberately obstructing justice.”

He also appealed to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial for justice. “I had stated earlier that I only expect justice from the Supreme Court. Powerful people who I have named will not allow justice to be carried out. If the chief justice back a powerful inquiry, only then can I get justice.”

‘Planned attack’

During his address, Imran claimed that people from “agencies” had already informed him about the bid to assassinate him. He said that an attack with a motive similar to the “killing of Salman Taseer” was planned to eliminate him.

Imran also claimed that attempts were made to create a narrative accusing him of committing blasphemy, in an effort to justify the attack on him by a “religious fanatic”.

He claimed that journalist Waqar Satti had allegedly shared a video of him that was later forwarded to others. He alleged that this was followed by press conferences by PML-N leaders Javed Latif, Rana Sanaullah, Maryam Nawaz and Khawaja Asif, wherein they accused him of hurting the religious sentiments of the masses.

He alleged that Pakistan Television was also told to run a campaign against him for four straight days.

Talking about the JIT, he said that the Gujrat district police officer (DPO) had refused to cooperate with the JIT formed to probe the attack while the Counter Terrorism Department personnel, who had appeared in the suspect’s confessional video, had also refused.

Without taking names, Imran said that “an institution” working under the federal government had refused to conduct a forensic analysis of a mobile phone forwarded by the JIT.

During the address, Imran also played a CCTV video which purportedly showed the DPO directing an official to record the confessional statement of the Wazirabad shooter.

“Which institution was behind the release of the suspect’s confessional statement? I know it,” he said. “I hope we can tell everyone who they are when the JIT summons them.”

Rana dispels Imran’s claims

Imran’s address came hours after Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah dismissed the PTI’s claim of the involvement of three shooters and termed the video statement by the suspect Naveed to be “100 per cent correct”.

Responding to a question from a reporter during a press conference in Islamabad, he said the suspect was “religiously motivated and self-motivated”.

“There was no second or third suspect involved in the incident other than the arrested suspect.”

Rana asserted that the PTI could conduct as many investigations as it desired but would not be able to “insert a second or third suspect”.

The interior minister further said that multiple videos of the attack showed the presence of a single shooter.

He alleged Imran was pretending to be injured, adding that it was impossible not to suffer a fracture after getting shot by a bullet.

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