At least 16 people, including eight policemen and women, were injured in a grenade attack on a police van in Swabi where Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan was addressing arguably the largest rally in the district’s history, acting DPO Muhammad Ashfaq told The Express Tribune.
Thousands of PTI followers gathered at the Shewa Adda area, outnumbering by almost twice the 20,000 seats arranged by organisers. As the rally concluded, unknown men hurled two hand grenades at a police van stationed for the rally’s security.
“I heard an explosion, after which policemen jumped out of their vehicle,” an eyewitness said. “There was another explosion and thick smoke enveloped the scene.”
Sources said the policemen were returning to their vehicle when the attack took place. The van belonged to the Mardan police, Ashfaq said. “The critically injured have been shifted to Mardan and Swabi.” There were seven policemen and nine others, including a woman, among the injured, hospital sources said.
Addressing the crowd earlier, Imran said his party, if voted to power, would shoot down US drones. He said that the rulers should be embarrassed of the ongoing drone strikes that violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and kill innocent people. “We will not let the US fire even a single missile and if it does, our government will resign; we will shoot down their drones,” he added.
Imran said that his “rivals are afraid of the PTI tsunami”. Both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari have foreign bank accounts and the money in these accounts belongs to poor Pakistanis, he alleged.
The PTI chief vowed to hold every corrupt person accountable and free the country’s people from American slavery. “We won’t beg for loans, we will generate our own funds,” he added.
Calling Nawaz Sharif a ‘supporter’ of President Zardari, Imran said Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Asfandyar Wali Khan were also helping him stay in power.
Making predictions about his party’s success in his characteristic cricketing analogies, he said even if the PML-N, PPP and JUI-F unite, “The PTI will bowl them out on the first ball.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2012.
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