Supporters of Imran Khan have blockaded motorways around Pakistan’s capital Islamabad as they step up their efforts to topple the government following an assassination attempt on the former prime minister.
In a series of protests on Monday and Tuesday, hundreds of supporters of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party stopped traffic on roads including Motorway Chowk, one of the main arteries into Islamabad, and temporarily cut off access to the airport.
PTI supporters have responded with anger to what they see as officials’ reluctance to investigate Khan’s allegation that prime minister Shehbaz Sharif alongside senior civilian and military officials conspired to kill him.
The former cricketer, who was removed as prime minister in a no-confidence vote in April, was shot multiple times in the leg on Thursday last week while leading an anti-government march in an open-top truck in Wazirabad, about 100 miles from Islamabad.
A dozen people, including senior PTI leaders, were injured in the attack and one supporter was killed.
A day after the shooting, Khan alleged he had received information that Sharif, interior minister Rana Sanaullah and Major General Faisal Naseer, a senior official with Pakistan’s intelligence services, were behind the shooting.
All three strongly deny the allegations, for which Khan did not provide evidence, with the military dismissing his claims as defamatory. An alleged perpetrator who was arrested after the shooting said he was acting alone, according to a video circulated on local television.
The PTI has called on its supporters to protest peacefully until the three officials resign and early parliamentary elections are held. The countrywide march at which Khan was shot is set to restart on Thursday without the former prime minister, who is still recovering from his injuries.
Many analysts believe that Khan would be the favourite to win the next election, which must be held by next year at the latest.
Government officials on Tuesday accused the PTI of deliberately making life difficult for the public by blockading roads. Education authorities in Islamabad have shut schools and cancelled exams in response to the demonstrations.
“Imran Khan wants chaos and sedition in Pakistan,” said Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, a leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party and the prime minister’s son.
Popular anger over the shooting and the increasingly poisonous tone of public discourse were reaching alarming levels, analysts said. “You are set to see only chaos and incoherence in Pakistani politics,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst.
Additional reporting by Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad