Pakistani cricket icon Imran Khan appealed from his hospital bed for voters to back his party in weekend elections if they want to transform their country, hours after injuring his head and back in a fall at a rally.
Khan, leading his Tehreek-e-Insaf party in the May 11 polls, fell off a forklift from the height of 14-20 feet (4-5 meters) while being lifted on to a stage at a rally in Lahore last night. He fractured a vertebra and sustained head and neck injuries, his party leader Asad Umar said in comments aired live on Geo television. Khan was rushed to hospital where he was declared stable.
“God helps those who help themselves,” he later said in a video message after doctors advised three weeks’ rest. “Vote for PTI’s ideology on May 11.” Leading rivals in the campaign wished him a speedy recovery.
Khan, 60, who spent more than 15 years as a political nobody before gaining appeal among young Pakistanis, managed to win just a single seat, his own, in the last election his party contested in 2002.
Khan’s message to the nation’s youth, spread through daily updates on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, have won him large crowds. While the Pakistan Muslim League of former premier Nawaz Sharif leads in opinion polls, Khan may be able to dent Sharif’s tally of seats in the key province of Punjab, which sends more than half the elected 272 members to parliament’s lower house.
Pakistan’s parliamentary elections will mark the first time in the nation’s history that one elected civilian administration completed its five-year term and handed power to a successor.
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