Pakistan’s new ‘hero’: The man who saved Imran Khan’s life, caught assailant

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It’s not the first time that there has been an attack on a politician in Pakistan. Luckily, the former prime minister Imran Khan had a narrow escape with gunshot injuries on his leg after bullets were fired at him during his “real freedom” rally in Wazirabad on Thursday. Six workers from his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), including chief Faisal Javed and Ahmed Chattha were injured and one of the two assailants was caught.

Also read: A bloody history: How Pakistani politicians are unsafe in their own country

Pakistan’s ‘new hero’

The man, who took on the armed attacker, is now being hailed as a hero by Khan’s supporters. Some have identified the “saviour” as Ibtisam Hassan. People reportedly picked him on his shoulders and showered praise on him for his brave act.

Ibtisam told local media that he was at a distance of 10 to 12 feet from the container-mounted truck carrying Khan when the gunman attacked. He was watching the 70-year-old PTI leader when he noticed a man loading his gun.

The suspected gunman fired one shot at Khan but Ibtisam said that he immediately jumped at the attacker, grabbed his hand, and pushed down. He opened fire once again but it hit another man. Amid the scuffle, he reportedly dropped the weapon. According to Ibtisam, the assailant was carrying an automatic weapon.

“I saw him open fire and hit him before he could fire another round. He dropped the gun and started fleeing. I chased and caught him... Khan sahab, jab tak hum zinda hai, aanch nahi aa sakti. (Khan sir, till the time I am alive, you will not he harm.),” the supporter of the former PM said, according to a report in India Today.

Ibtisam said that he chased the suspect and caught him with the help of other participants of the march.

The attacker

The man who shot at Khan has been identified as Naveed Mohammad Basheer. He confessed to his crime and accused the leader of committing blasphemy, saying that it was the reason that prompted him to kill Khan.

“Imran Khan is misleading the people so I thought to kill him. He is doing blasphemy, playing music, and dancing when Azaan happens, I just want to kill Imran Khan. I will not leave him. There is no one behind me. I am alone," Basheer, a resident of Sodhra in the Wazirabad district, can be heard saying in a video soon after he got arrested by the cops. He was caught with a 9mm pistol and two empty magazines.

Khan’s condition

The PTI leader is stable and recuperating. Dr Faisal Sultan, the former assistant to the prime minister on health, has said that there were fragments of bullets on his legs, according to a report in Dawn.

“…according to X-rays and scans, there are fragments of bullets in his legs and there’s a chip in his tibia shin bone,” he told media persons outside the Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore on Thursday night.

The blame game

Senior PTI leaders have said that Khan believes that the attack on him was carried out on the orders of three people including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a top Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General Major General Faisal Naseer.

“…Imran Khan told us to issue this statement on his behalf. He believes there are three people on whose behest this was done - Shehbaz Sharif, Rana Sanaullah and Maj Gen Faisal. He said he was receiving information and is saying this on that basis," Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders Asad Umar and Mian Aslam Iqbal said.

Major Naseer is the director general (C) ISI.

Sharif condemned the attack on Khan and ordered Sanaullah to seek a report from the inspector-general of police and chief secretary of Punjab in Pakistan. “I condemn the incident of firing on PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the strongest words. I have directed Interior Minister for an immediate report on the incident. I pray for the recovery and health of PTI chairman & other injured people,” he wrote on Twitter.

The attack on Khan comes seven months after he was ousted as Pakistan’s prime minister after losing a trust vote and the defence establishment’s confidence.

Ready to fight back

Khan said he is ready to fight back. Speaking to his close aides moments after being shot, he said, “Allah has given me another life." In exclusive information sourced by CNN-News18, he added, “I know they want to kill me but they don’t know Allah is protecting me. I will fight back.”

Meanwhile, Insaf Students Federation, in a tweet quoting Imran Khan, has said that PTI’s long march towards Islamabad will resume from Friday.

The long march started on 28 October from Lahore and is expected to reach Islamabad on 4 November, covering nearly 380 km over a week. Calling the rally one of the “biggest freedom movements” in the country, the PTI leader had said that he was marching to pressure the government to announce elections immediately.

The move came days after Pakistan’s Election Commission disqualified Khan from holding public office for five years on the charge of hiding proceeds from the sale of gifts he received from foreign leaders.

With inputs from agencies

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Pakistan’s new ‘hero’: The man who saved Imran Khan’s life, caught assailant
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