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Pakistan: Imran Khan shot, not fatally, as the revolt continues

  • Former prime minister Imran Khan has been shot, not fatally, in the leg, during the ongoing mass protests

  • Unprecedented crowds have rallied against the military leadership and old political class

  • The current army chief’s term expires this month and the next election is due before October 2023

Pakistan: Imran Khan shot, not fatally, as the revolt continues
Hasnain Malik
Hasnain Malik

Strategy & Head of Equity Research

Tellimer Research
3 November 2022
Published byTellimer Research

There will be serious consequences after the attack, from multiple armed assailants, on the PTI caravan and of mass supporters, on their way to the capital Islamabad. Opposition leader, Imran Khan, was shot in the leg and disembarked his truck, bleeding, clearly in pain, but in full consciousness. One fatality has thus far been reported. Khan issued a statement, from hospital, holding Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and Head of Counter Intelligence, and, most notably, Director of Counter Intelligence Major General Faisal Naseer, directly responsible.

The crowds attracted by Khan’s populist rhetoric against the corruption and institutional interference of the current army-intelligence leadership and their recently rehabilitated partners among the established political elite (ie the Sharif brothers’ PMLN and Zardari’s PPP) are of a size unseen in recent history. 

The shooting likely narrows the room for compromise, inflaming the passions of Khan’s supporters and making those he criticises even less popular. The key demand from Khan is an early general election, rather than the removal of the army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, or a specific choice for Bajwa’s successor (as his term ends this month). 

The election is due before October 2023 but the driver of the protests is the alleged manipulation of the parliamentary vote of no confidence earlier this year, which led to the fall of Khan’s government, and the PTI’s victory in most of the subsequent by-elections. 

The absence of any visibility over the political outlook – with scenarios ranging from an early election (where Khan’s PTI is the favourite), a muddle-through of the existing PMLN-PPP government and the imposition of martial law all equally likely – means any short-term investment case in local currency assets is hard to support.