Never-ending Saga: List of assassination attempts on Pakistan’s top politicians

Pakistan has always been at a crossroads in dealing with major economic and security issues. Whether it’s the fight against the economy, terrorism, cross-border invasion or even fighting battles internally, Pakistan has always paid the price.

Former prime minister Imran Khan was the latest victim of an assassination attempt but not the first one to face this extremism. The idea of not agreeing to disagree on different issues, political views and beliefs has damaged Pakistan to shake its core democratic roots.

Here’s a list of top Pakistan’s politicians who faced assassination attempts:

Liaqat Ali Khan:

A shooter assassinated the first prime minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan on October 16, 1951. The murder took place during a political gathering in Rawalpindi.

The assassin Said Akbar son of Babrak was an Afghan national and was shot and killed by the police moments afterwards, although the exact reason for the assassination is still unknown.

The assassin of Pakistan’s prime minister was a member of the Jadran tribe according to Associated Press (AP) and 2000 Rupee bills were discovered in his pocket.

A panel led by Federal Court Judge Justice Muhammad Munir and composed of Punjab Finance Commissioner Akhtar Hussain was established by the then-government to look into Khan’s murder on October 25, ten days after he was killed.

Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan, the widow of Liaquat Ali Khan, disputed the report and the police department then tasked CID inspector Sheikh Abrar Ahmed with looking into Liaquat Ali Khan’s assassination.

Sheikh Abrar Ahmed’s autobiography, “Naqush Zindagi,” contains the report he prepared. The report claims that although Said Akbar personally carried out Liaquat Ali Khan’s murder, certain publications are to blame for inciting Said Akbar to kill Liaquat Ali Khan and Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan because they had published a harsh critique of Liaquat’s policies.

General Zia ul Haq:

General Zia ul Haq, who had gained control in 1977 died in a suspicious plane accident on August 17, 1988.

At the time of the deadly accident, the president and army chief of Pakistan, together with senior military officers, were in the aircraft.

The accident’s cause is unknown to date, and a report on the occurrence from a judicial panel has not yet been made public. The conclusions of the Shafiqur Rehman commission established to look into the incident were never made public.

Pervez Musharraf:

Pervez Musharraf became president of Pakistan from 2001 to 2008 after leading a military coup in 1999.

The most powerful man in Pakistan after declaring his support for the US war on terror in Afghanistan was the target of many assassination attempts.

On December 14, 2003, a bomb exploded minutes after his convoy passed a bridge in Rawalpindi, resulting in a near escape from an attempted assassination. In his autobiography “In the Line of Fire,” he recounted how the explosion sent his car flying into the air.

A few days later, two suicide bombers in two vehicles slammed into his convoy on the same road, but he managed to survive a second attempt on his life.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan in September 2006 affirmed the death penalties given to 12 defendants who were found guilty of taking part in the two attempts on Musharraf’s life. Islam Siddiqui, who had been found guilty of taking part in one of the attempts, was executed.

Benazir Bhutto:

Pakistan’s first female prime minister Benazir Bhutto was the target of two assassination attempts.

After spending eight years in exile, the two-time prime minister returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, and was immediately the target of a suicide bombing in Karachi. In the incident that resulted in the deaths of more than 140 people, Bhutto was unharmed.

However, she was assassinated on December 27, 2007, during a political gathering in Rawalpindi two months later at the same location where Liaquat Khan was killed.

In the wake of the murder, some laid their fingers on Musharraf, some on terrorists, and others on Asif Ali Zardari, and some hypothesized that it was a lone gunman strike.

Heraldo Muoz in his book ‘Getting Away with Murder’ goes further than anybody and reveals how America ended up playing a surprising part in this murder.

Imran Khan:

Former prime minister Imran Khan got injured on November 3, 2022, in an assassination attempt.

Cricketer-turned-politician was leading a demonstration to urge early elections when the incident happened in Wazirabad, Punjab.

Khan got injuries on both his legs and suspected killer Muhammad Naveed was detained by the police around 15 minutes after the media began reporting on the incident.

Naveed is still in the custody of police with no further trial or investigation. Unlike many incidents where commission reports failed to get public, Khan and his party have yet to file an FIR on suspected individuals.

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