Imran Khan attacked during protest march in Pakistan

Islamabad, Aug 15:  Cricketer-turned-politician and opposition leader Imran Khan Friday said he was attacked during an anti-government march in Pakistan’s Punjab province by ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party activists, media reports said.

Imran Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, said it was the fourth time that his partymen were attacked by PML-N activists, adding that the Sharif brothers (Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif) will be responsible if any untoward incident happened during the anti-government march to Islamabad.

He said 300-400 people hurled stones and opened fire on the Azadi March. Four activists of Imran Khan’s party were also injured in the attack which took place in Gujranwala, an industrial city.  The PML-N activists pelted stones that smashed the window panes of Imran Khan’s vehicle, Dunya TV reported. Opposition leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah condemned the attack on Imran Khan’s convoy.

Following clashes, Imran Khan left the container he was travelling in during the Azadi March and was en route to Islamabad in a bulletproof vehicle, Geo News reported in the evening. In a message on social media, he asked party workers to reach Islamabad by evening.

The PTI leader said police took no action against the attackers and that he had the video evidence to support his claims. The trouble makers were using the roofs of police vans to attack the marchers, a PTI activist was quoted as saying by Duniya TV. Imran Khan started his anti-government march from Lahore Thursday. The marchers are to reach Islamabad after covering a distance of nearly 370 km, and will start a sit-in at Islamabad.

A former cricketing icon, he told hundreds of supporters at the beginning of the march that he was struggling for a “new Pakistan” as the rulers have “failed to deliver”. Imran Khan said he would not end his protest until the prime minister resigned. He claims that Sharif has formed the government through “rigging” in last year’s General Elections, a claim rejected by the government.

Sharif has rejected calls for his resignation and instead accused Imran Khan of trying to weaken an elected government. Tahir ul Qadri, a senior religious leader who heads Pakistan Awami Tehrik or Peoples Movement, is also marching towards Islamabad along with his supporters and will join Imran Khan in Islamabad.