Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is due to make a full recovery after his accident at an election rally.
Khan, the leader of the Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) suffered several fractures and a broken rib after falling off an improvised lift in Lahore, just days ahead of parliamentary elections. Doctors have said Khan will not be out of hospital in time to vote.
Despite remaining hospitalised in the crucial last days of the election race, some are suggesting the accident may have helped his bid. The accident triggered a flood of support and concern on social media for the 60 year-old politician, who already has a passionate following. Even Khan’s opponents wished him well, and many cancelled campaign events on Wednesday.
Khan’s main opponent, Nawaz Sharif from the Pakistan Muslim League party posted the following message on Facebook, “Just visited Imran Khan in the hospital and conveyed best wishes of Mian Nawaz Sharif… He is Alhumdulillah fine and recovering mashaaAllah… Prayers for him and his family.”
Just hours after the incident Khan was talking politics again; from his hospital bed he addressed the voters saying: “I have fought for Pakistan all my life, I have done whatever I could do…Now I want you to take responsibility. If you want to change your fate then you have to take responsibility.” The video is now being used by the PTI as a party political broadcast.
Mohammed Malick, a prominent Pakistani journalist told The Guardian, “This really resonates because people like the image of a fighter, of a warrior…He took this terrible fall and he’s recovering quickly – that’s a powerful image.”
While the accident may give PTI a boost, analysts are still favouring two-time prime minister Sharif’s party to win, and many are predicting a hung-parliament. The election is a landmark event as it will be the first time a civilian government in Pakistan completes a full term and hands over to another.
Threats of violence are also hanging over the upcoming elections. Pakistan’s Taliban is reportedly vowing to disrupt the poll with suicide bombings – in words attributed to its leader Hakimullah Mehsud, because it does not accept “the system of infidels called democracy”.