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Imran Khan did say that Benazir Bhutto was to blame for October 2007 attack

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Claim: Imran Khan’s quote regarding the attack on Benazir Bhutto’s cavalcade in 2007 is being taken out of context to make it seem like he blamed the late politician for the bombing.

Fact: In the article, Khan expressly states that Bhutto is to blame for the attack due to her policies and implies that she was at fault for moving within such a large crowd.

On 3rd November 2022, a gunman opened fire during Imran Khan’s Long March procession, reportedly injuring Khan and other Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders. PTI maintains that the incident was an assassination attempt on Khan’s life.

Following the incident, screenshots of an article published by The Telegraph in 2007. Headlined “Benazir Bhutto Has Only Herself To Blame”, the piece carries Khan’s name as the by-line.

Khan’s supporters have criticised those who have shared the piece, stating that it has been taken out of context. They assert that the text of the article does not actually lay blame for the 2007 attack on Bhutto.

Fact or Fiction?

On 18th October 2007, Bhutto returned to Pakistan after eight years in exile, landing in Karachi. As she drove from the airport to Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s mausoleum, Bhutto’s van was flanked by large crowds gathered to greet her and celebrate her return. During this procession, two large bombs went off near her vehicle, killing 134 individuals and wounding over 400.

Three days after the attack, The Telegraph published Khan’s opinion on the matter. In the article, Khan states that Bhutto had “only herself to blame” for the attack on her procession. Since the piece has resurfaced in the wake of last week’s incident, Khan’s supporters are arguing that this excerpt is being taken out of context.

Soch Fact Check found that even within the context of the article’s full text, Khan is stating that Bhutto is to blame for the 2007 attack. He justifies this argument by saying that it was Bhutto’s alliance with former president General Pervaiz Musharraf that provoked the attack on her.

Khan also criticises the procession, stating that the size of the crowd made it impossible to monitor for potential attackers and that the incident, “was a tragedy almost waiting to happen”. It’s to be noted that since then, Khan has led many processions and sit-ins with large crowds, including the Long March at which the incident occurred last week.

A PTI supporter stated that Khan’s piece is actually a policy critique rather than a criticism of Bhutto. This is true. As the piece progresses, Khan does go on to critique Musharraf’s counterterrorism policies, especially within tribal areas in the north of Pakistan. This does not, however, change the context within which the piece is being shared.

Multiple PTI supporters also claimed that the article’s by-line was actually the name of another person, an editor or writer who worked at The Telegraph. Soch Fact Check found no evidence of Imran Khan who wrote for or worked at The Telegraph in 2007. Furthermore, the article carries a first-person reference to Imran Khan’s campaigning in Pakistan’s north.

Virality

Soch Fact Check was able to identify over 30 tweets, discounting excerpts from the article as either fake or being out of context. These were in response to tweets from noted individuals like politicians Farhatullah Babar and Miftah Ismail, Khawaja Asif, and journalist Ailia Zehra.

Conclusion: Excerpts from an article quoting Imran Khan with regard to the 2007 attack on Benazir Bhutto’s cavalcade are not being taken out of context. Khan did state that Bhutto was to blame for the attack due to her political stance.

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