“I want to say that we are humans and we will not be treated like animals. You can’t always fool all the people, the nation has risen and now we have two roads ahead of us, do we want a peaceful or a bloody revolution? There is no third option,” he said.
A gunman opened fire on Khan and his supporters on Thursday during a controversial march demanding snap elections. The gunman was arrested by police shortly afterwards and is still in custody. Khan said one person was killed in the attack and eleven injured.
Pakistani Imran Khan shot during protest, top officials accuse
He said he plans to rejoin his protest march to the capital once he recovers. Before his speech, his doctor presented X-rays showing the bullet fragments in his tibia.
The shooting has heightened tensions across Pakistan, with thousands of Khan supporters launching demonstrations after prayers on Friday. The protesters chanted “Revolution!” and “Khan, your devotees are innumerable.” The protests blocked major highways outside the capital Islamabad and in the cities of Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi.
Riot police quickly intervened, firing volleys of tear gas to disperse the crowd. Videos circulated by local broadcasters show some Khan supporters in Islamabad being loaded into the back of a police van. And on the outskirts of the capital, hundreds of protesters continue to block highways, despite thick clouds of tear gas and calls to disband.
Khan also called on the Pakistan Army chief to take “action” against “the black sheep in his organization.” Khan warned that if the army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, “does not put the country first”, it will not “bring a good name to his organization”.
The Pakistani military was quick to condemn Khan’s comments, describing them as “baseless allegations” and “deeply regrettable,” in a written statement.
“No one will defame the institution or its soldiers with impunity,” it said.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah criticized Khan’s party at a news conference Friday, saying the former leader has chosen “a path of destruction”.
After condemning Thursday’s attack, Sanaullah suggested Khan’s heated rhetoric was partly to blame for the shooting and warned that national unrest will not only harm the ruling party.
“If you think so [your path] destroy others, then you must realize that it will not spare you either. You’re on the same line,” he said, adding that the government is exploring ways “to counter those forces that fuel intolerance.”
Khan’s party members have released statements blaming the Pakistani government for the shooting.
Fawad Chaudhry, a senior member of Khan’s party, described the attack Thursday as “a well-thought-out conspiracy”, in a series of tweets after a meeting of Khan’s top political leadership.
Khan first charged the officials Thursday hours after he was shot. He demands that they be removed from office and that an investigation into the shooting be launched.
“You crossed our red line. … Now look at the music,” tweeted another high-ranking Khan party member, Pervez Khattak, refers to Thursday’s attack.
Khan and the Pakistani government have been battling each other since the former cricketer was removed from power by parliament this year. Khan blamed his ouster on a foreign plot, and in the months that followed, he gained popular support by holding a series of demonstrations across the country to destroy Pakistan’s new leadership.
In his speech on Friday, Khan promised his march demanding snap elections would be resumed “soon”.
“After I got better. Then I will again call for a march towards Islamabad. I ask the nation not to compromise on their rights and not to compromise on their freedom, that is the most important thing. A nation of slaves has no respect,” he said.
George reported from Kabul and Khan from Peshawar.