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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Video of Imran Khan\'s Fall at Election Rally in Pakistan

Video from Pakistan's Express Tribune showed the former cricketer Imran Khan falling at an election rally in Lahore on Tuesday.

Last Updated, 2:36 p.m. Imran Khan, a former cricket superstar who has been drawing huge crowds to campaign rallies in Pakistan ahead of Saturday's election, was rushed to a hospital in Lahore on Tuesday after he was knocked off a forklift at the edge of a stage and fell headfirst to the ground, nearly 15 feet below.

As video of the incident posted on Vimeo by Karachi's Express Tribune showed, Mr. Khan was being lifted up to the stage when a security man clambered on to the forklift causing the candidate and two other men to lose their footing. According to initial reports from Pakistani journalists and bloggers, Mr. Khan was in stable condition.

Footage of the accident broadcast by Pakistan's Geo TV also showed Mr. Khan being rushed from the scene after the fall, with blood on his face.

Video from Pakistan's Geo News showed a bloodied Imran Khan being carried away after his fall on Tuesday.

According to updates on his condition posted on the official Twitter feed of his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the 60-year-old suffered “a minor fracture” and was “stable, alert, awake and conscious” after getting 12 stitches.

Mr. Khan's former wife, the British writer and socialite Jemima Khan, also confirmed that he was conscious, and praying aloud, as he was rushed to the hospital, according to a family member.

Pakistani commentators - including Umar Cheema, Nadeem Paracha, Beena Sarwar and the blogger who writes as Raza Rumi - noted with relief that rival politicians, bloggers and activists mostly paused the often-fractious debate about the nation's problems online and on the campaign trail in sympathy with Mr. Khan.

Before being taken seriously as a politician, Mr. Khan was perhaps best known as a member of the international jet set. His former wife was close friends with Princess Diana, who helped Mr. Khan raise funds for Lahore's Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, which he founded in memory of his late mother. On Tuesday night, Mr. Khan was being treated there.

A television image of Imran Khan, the Pakistani politician who was injured in a fall at a campaign rally in Lahore on Tuesday.Express News/Agence France-Presse - Getty Images A television image of Imran Khan, the Pakistani politician who was injured in a fall at a campaign rally in Lahore on Tuesday.

Late Tuesday, Mr. Khan was well enough to resume campaigning in a television interview from his hospital bed with Pakistan's Dunya News channel.

Mr. Khan's celebrity appeal, loud opposition to American drone strikes, and calls to engage rather than fight Taliban militants have earned him a strong following in the final days of this general election campaign. As Pankaj Mishra explained in a profile of Mr. Khan for The New York Times Magazine last year, the glamorous former cricketer initially “struggled to break into Pakistani politics,” but has successfully reworked his image:

He now casts himself as the archetypal confused sinner who has discovered the restorative certainties of religion and is outraged over the decadence of his own class. “In today's Lahore and Karachi,” he writes, “rich women go to glitzy parties in Western clothes chauffeured by men with entirely different customs and values.” His avowals of Islam, his identification with the suffering masses and his attacks on his affluent, English-speaking peers have long been mocked in the living rooms of Lahore and Karachi as the hypocritical ravings of “Im the Dim” and “Taliban Khan” - the two favored monikers for him. (His villa is commonly cited as evidence of his own unalloyed elitism.)

Nevertheless, Khan's autobiography creates a cogent picture out of his - and Pakistan's - clashing identities. There is the proud young man of Pashtun blood born into Pakistan's Anglicized feudal and bureaucratic elite - an elite that disdained their poor, Urdu-speaking compatriots. There is the student and cricketer in 1970s Britain, when racism was endemic and even Pakistanis considered themselves inferior to their former white masters. Then we meet the brilliant cricket captain who inspired a world-beating team; the D.I.Y. philanthropist who pursued his dream of building a world-class cancer hospital in Pakistan; the jaded middle-aged sybarite who found a wise Sufi mentor; the political neophyte who awakened to social and economic injustice; and finally the experienced politician, who after 15 years of having his faith tested by electoral failure is now convinced of his destiny as Pakistan's savior.

Robert Mackey also remixes the news on Twitter @robertmackey.