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Pakistan politician Imran Khan recovering after fall.

Islamabad: Pakistan's popular politician Imran Khan, recovering in hospital from head and spine injures he suffered in a fall at an election campaign rally in Lahore, has called upon people to take charge and vote for change in Saturday's general election.

Khan has been advised bed rest by doctors treating him at the Shaukat Khan Hospital in Lahore following the mishap Tuesday evening when he fell along with some guards from a forklift taking him onto the stage to address the crowd.

The 62-year old leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insf (PTI) will not be able to resume his campaign in the final two days before all electioneering by political parties and candidates halts across the country by midnight Thursday under the Election Commission orders.

He will also miss his planned casting of his own vote in his hometown of Mianwali in Punjab, the country's most populous province where a fierce electoral battle looms between the PTI and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

Khan, who had 15 stitches on his head and suffered two minor back fractures, has been shifted to a private room at the hospital from the ICU.

He was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time of fall which may have helped protect him from more serious injury, his family said.

Physician Faisal Sultan said that Khan suffered minor fractures in the left third rib and three vertebrae of the backbone - one near the neck and two near the middle of the backbone.

Doctors say that the fractures can easily heal, but require complete bed rest for at least a week and minimum movement for between three to six weeks.

"The important thing is that the spinal canal is intact and Mr Khan is in full control of his limbs and his body functions." Dr Sultan said. It was only by the "grace of God" that he had not suffered any any "neurological compromises," the doctor said.

Lying on his bed at the Shaukat Khanum Hospital, which he had built and named after her mother, Khan urged his supporters to ensure voting in big numbers for the ideology and mission of his party.

"11th May is the day of change. I have done what I could and now it is for people to turn out and vote to ensure the making of a New Pakistan," he said in a video message to his party workers and supporters.

In a goodwill gesture PML-N Sharif stopped his party's campaign for a day on Wednesday, wished the PTI leader speedy recovery and sent his younger brother Shahbaz to the hospital to see the cricket hero-turned-politician.

Leaders from different political parties and Punjab's caretaker chief minister Najam Sethi visited the hospital, while President Asif Ali Zardari and interim Prime Minister Hazar Khan Khoso expressed sorrow at the mishap and good wishes for the PTI chief.

Hundreds of people remained at the entrance to the hospital through the night awaiting more news about the PTI leder's condition. Many chanted "Long live Imran Khan," prayed for his early recovery and delivered bouquets to him.

The PTI leader had been campaigning relentlessly and briefly collapsed on stage earlier this month. He had addressed over 60 rallies in the past few weeks in a whirlwind election campaign, more than any other political leader.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:May 9, 2013
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