Pakistan has witnessed several political assassinations, attempted killings and even suspicious death of national leaders since it gained independence in 1947.
Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan was shot in the shin during a rally Thursday in Wazirabad city in what his Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party is calling an “assassination attempt”.
Since the incident, PTI workers have been staging protests across the country. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered a thorough inquiry into the incident.
But this is not the first time a high-profile Pakistani leader has been targeted. Pakistan has a volatile history when it comes to political assassinations and attacks on its national leadership, dating back to the creation of the country 75 years ago.
Here is a look at some of the most notable incidents:
Liaquat Ali Khan – former prime minister
Liaquat Ali Khan, who was a crucial part of Pakistan’s independence movement and served as its first prime minister, was assassinated by a shooter during a political rally in Rawalpindi on October 16, 1951.
Minutes later, the assassin Said Akbar, an Afghan national, was killed by the police on the spot, leaving the motive of the killing shrouded in mystery.
Zia ul Haq – former army chief and president
General Zia ul Haq, who seized power in 1977, died in a mysterious plane crash on August 17, 1988.
Pakistan’s then-president and army chief was accompanied by the military’s top brass and the envoy of the United States to Pakistan at the time of the fatal crash.
The cause of the crash is not known and a judicial commission report into the incident has not been made public to this date.
Pervez Musharraf – former army chief and president
Pervez Musharraf came to power in what is often dubbed a bloodless military coup in 1999 and remained one of Pakistan’s longest-serving rulers, serving as its president from 2001 to 2008.
He faced several attempts on his life after announcing support for the US in its “war on terror” in neighbouring Afghanistan.
He narrowly escaped an attempted assassination on December 14, 2003, when a bomb blew up a bridge in Rawalpindi, minutes after his motorcade passed it. A few days later, he survived a second attempt on his life as suicide bombers in two trucks rammed into his convoy on the same road.
On July 2, 2007, the plane he was traveling in was fired on as it took off from a military airfield in Rawalpindi. Many years after he stepped down as president, the route of the former leader’s convoy was targeted by a bomb within minutes of him crossing past in April 2014.
Shaukat Aziz – former prime minister
In July 2004, an assassination attempt was carried out against Shaukat Aziz who was the country’s then-finance minister and a prime ministerial candidate for the Musharraf-led government.
Aziz survived the attack and went on to serve as prime minister from 2004 to 2007. At least seven people were killed and 70 others were injured in the suicide bomb attack, which was claimed by Al Qaeda.
Benazir Bhutto – former prime minister
Benazir Bhutto, daughter of former Pakistani PM Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, faced two attacks.
The two-time prime minister was first targeted in a suicide bomb attack on October 18, 2007 in Karachi upon her arrival ın Pakistan after spending eight years in exile. Bhutto remained unhurt in the attack that claimed more than 140 lives.
But she was killed two months later on December 27, 2007 at a political rally in Rawalpindi. The gun and suicide bomb attack was carried out at the same venue where Liaquat Khan was killed.
The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Imran Khan – former prime minister
The Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and former prime minister Imran Khan was injured in what his party described as a “assassination attempt” on November 3, 2022.
The attack took place in Punjab province’s Wazirababd city as Khan was leading a rally to demand early elections.