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Pakistan's new army chief Gen. Asim Munir meets with President Arif Alvi in Islamabad.

Press Information Department/Handout via REUTERS

Operation Cleanup: Pakistan’s new general has an old assignment

After months of drama and debate, Pakistan finally has a new army chief, ostensibly the most powerful man in the land. While Gen. Asim Munir inherits a country in the midst of political chaos and economic disaster, he is also confronted by a crisis of confidence in Pakistan’s most powerful and organized institution.

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Imran Khan supporters chant slogans as they condemn the assassination attempt on the former PM in Wazirabad, Pakistan.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

After Imran Khan attack, Pakistan’s fatal political threesome escalates

Pakistan is still reeling after the assassination attempt on ex-PM Imran Khan, the born-again Muslim populist who has been campaigning for snap elections and a return to power since being ousted from office last April. After he survived gunshot wounds on his legs Thursday, a three-way political battle between Khan, the civilian government, and its military backers is now spilling onto the streets.

The flurry of accusations, questions, and investigations in the wake of the shooting doesn’t bode well for political and social stability in the world’s fifth most populous country and the only nuclear-armed Islamic republic.

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A supporter of Pakistan's former PM Imran Khan in Karachi gestures following the shooting incident on his long march in Wazirabad.


What We're Watching: Pakistan’s former PM shot, Olaf goes to Beijing

Imran Khan survives assassination attempt

Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan — aka “Kaptaan” for his cricket accolades and lead-from-the-front style of populist politics — survived an assassination attempt on Thursday during his “Long March” to Islamabad. Khan was shot in the leg as his truck-driven stage rolled through the central Pakistani city of Wazirabad, and he was rushed to a hospital in Lahore, where he was eventually declared stable. Eight other members of his entourage were also injured, and one party worker was killed. At least one alleged gunman was challenged and apprehended by a brave bystander. “He was misleading people and I couldn’t take it,” the suspect said in a leaked confession to police. “I tried to kill only him.” Meanwhile, Khan’s party accused PM Shehbaz Sharif's government of plotting the attack and threatened protests nationwide if they weren’t removed from power. As if on cue, widespread protests kicked off against military and government officials. Khan, who was removed from office last April, has been demanding snap elections, but so far he’s been ignored. Despite his party sweeping by-elections, mass rallies, and his summoning of unprecedented support against the military, the political establishment hasn’t blinked. Will this attack force their hand?

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Ousted Pakistani PM Imran Khan gestures as he addresses supporters during a rally in Lahore.

REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

Pakistan's former PM injured in assassination attempt

On Thursday, former PM Imran Khan was shot and injured in the leg during a rally in Wazirabad, a city in eastern Punjab province. The shooter, identified as Naveed Mohammad Bashir, was interrogated by police. He was reportedly following Khan’s convoy and intended to kill him. "Imran Khan was misleading the people, and I couldn’t take it anymore. My objective was to kill him, and just him," he said. Eight other leaders of Khan's party were also injured. As we wrote about recently, political long marches in Pakistan rarely end well — and this time was no different. Soon after Khan kicked off his march to demand a snap election that he thinks will return him to power, the head of Pakistan's shadowy ISI intelligence services warned in a rare press conference that there could be violence. So, what happens now? It really depends on how soon the ousted former PM recovers from his injuries and whether the military — once again — steps in to restore order. There's no love lost between Khan and the army, but it's the men in uniform who — directly or indirectly — call all the shots in Pakistan. Still, as GZERO's own Waj Khan tweets, the army-backed government has two options now: placate Khan by agreeing to hold an early election or shut it all down if the violence gets out of hand.

Supporters of Pakistan's ousted former PM Imran Khan listen to his Long March speech in Lahore.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

On the road to confrontation: Imran Khan’s power trip

On Friday, Pakistan's former PM Imran Khan finally kicked off the "Long March" he’s been threatening for months. Khan’s move is a familiar one in this part of the world, which has a rich history of mobilizing to achieve political goals.

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What We're Watching: Imran Khan launches long march from Lahore. Seen here in earlier mass demonstrations.

What We're Watching: Imran Khan's long march

Imran Khan launches his long march in Lahore

Imran Khan, the born-again Muslim populist who accuses the US of ousting him from power in Pakistan last April, is on the march – again. On Friday, he launched the “Long March” he’s been threatening for months. The launchpad? Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital. The destination? Islamabad, the federal capital. There’s just 230 miles between the two cities – a four-hour drive – but Khan is pacing his march over the next week, aiming to arrive by next Friday. By staggering the journey, he aims to gather mass and political momentum. As he left Lahore on Friday with a crowd of about 10,000, Khan announced that he expects more than a million people to join him as he crosses through the historic Grand Trunk Road, the political heartland of the 220-million-strong country – the same path taken by many earlier political protest movements. The once-progressive cricket hero thrives on right-wing activist politics and has been here before: In 2014, he led a similar march and ended up laying siege to Islamabad for more than six months, paralyzing the capital but not managing to overthrow the government of then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. This time, Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz’s younger brother, is the PM, and the government has warned Khan that it will respond with force if he crosses certain parts of Islamabad. While Khan has urged his followers to obey the law, the all-powerful military and intelligence services have warned of violence and even a possible terrorist attack, which could unravel the delicate balance in the world’s fifth-largest country. The next few days will be critical for Pakistan’s political future.

Supporters of former Pakistani PM Imran Khan's block a Peshawar motorway toll plaza after he was disqualified from holding public office.

Hussain Ali/Pacific Press/Sipa via Reuters Connect

Crisistan: Pakistan’s three-way political poker game

Always on the brink, Pakistan is in crisis mode. Former PM Imran Khan, the cricket hero-turned-born again Muslim populist firebrand, was disqualified Friday from holding public office. Meanwhile, his deputies are being arrested, recorded conversations are being leaked to damage his credibility, and his supporters are being threatened with legal action.

But nothing’s working to stop the Khan juggernaut. And the country, strapped for cash and still reeling from catastrophic flooding, is headed toward further political turmoil.

As protests spring up in his support, the “Kaptaan” — Captain, as Khan is known for his athletic accolades and lead-from-the-front style of politicking — is threatening to launch a movement of civil disobedience by marching toward the capital of the world’s fifth-most populous nation and only nuclear-armed Islamic republic.

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A closed gas station in Beirut, Lebanon.

Mohamed Azakir via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Lebanese fuel subsidies slashed, Belgian terror trial, forced labor and marriage surge, Imran Khan’s bail extended

20,000: The cost of 20 liters of gas jumped by 20,000 pounds in Lebanon on Monday after the country’s central bank lifted its last fuel subsidies, following a year-long process to replace fuel and some food subsidies with cheaper social welfare programs. This was a massive price hike in a country already accustomed to price volatility and economic collapse.

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