LAHORE, Pakistan — One of Pakistan’s most prominent politicians, former cricket star Imran Khan, 60, fell at a political rally Tuesday, leaving him with two hairline skull fractures and knocking him off the campaign trail ahead of Saturday’s general election.
Khan has emerged as a wild-card candidate and it is unclear how much his widespread personal popularity will translate into votes at the polls. His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, however, is considered one of the top three parties in the country.
Khan was treated at the hospital he himself built in honor of his late mother in the eastern city of Lahore. Doctors told local television that Kahn suffered two minor fractures to the skull and had a backache, but none of his injuries were life-threatening.
Just hours after the fall, the charismatic politician spoke to reporters from his hospital bed. He was visibly shaken and had a cut on his forehead, but he was still asking people to vote for his party.
Asad Omar, leader of Khan’s party, told Pakistan’s Geo News that party leaders would meet Wednesday to discuss how to continue his campaign during the next three days.
He said Khan will spend the night at the hospital, and that doctors are asking him to rest for 15 days. But the former cricket star, Omar said, is in good physical condition and wants to resume his political activities as soon as possible.
The Pakistani election has been marred by near-daily violence by militants targeting candidates and their election offices. Three bombings in northwest Pakistan targeting individuals involved in the election killed 18 people on Tuesday, police said, pushing the death toll from attacks on candidates and party workers to more than 100 since the beginning of April. Most of the violence has focused on three parties that have supported military operations against Taliban militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
Dramatic television footage of the fall showed Khan standing on a stack of crates piled onto a forklift accompanied by at least three guards or supporters. As the forklift began to raise him up to the stage, the cricket star and three of the men standing next to him fall back over a railing.