LAHORE, Pakistan - One of Pakistan's most prominent politicians, former cricket star Imran Khan, fell at a political rally Tuesday, leaving him with two hairline skull fractures and knocking him off the campaign trail ahead of Saturday's general election.
Khan has emerged as a wild-card candidate, and it is unclear how much his widespread personal popularity will translate into votes at the polls. His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, however, is considered one of the top three parties in the country.
Khan was treated at the hospital he himself built in honor of his late mother in the eastern city of Lahore. Doctors told local television that Khan suffered two minor fractures to the skull and had a backache, but none of his injuries was life-threatening.
Just hours after the fall, the charismatic politician spoke to reporters from his hospital bed.
He was visibly shaken and had a cut on his forehead, but he was still asking people to vote for his party.
"I have done whatever I could do," he told national broadcaster Dunya TV. "Now you have to decide whether you want to make a new Pakistan."
Asad Omar, leader of Khan's party, told Pakistan's Geo News that party leaders would meet Wednesday to discuss how to continue his campaign during the next three days.
Dramatic television footage of the fall showed Khan standing on a stack of crates piled onto a forklift accompanied by at least three guards or supporters. As the forklift began to raise him up to the stage, the cricket star and three of the men standing next to him fell back over a railing.
Khan fell at least 15 feet, but it was not clear on what type of surface he landed. Local TV footage showed supporters carrying him away from the rally, apparently unconscious and with a bloodied face.
Family and close aides also were at the hospital to check on his condition.
"Imran Khan wants his supporters to remain peaceful and united, and he says he will soon be among them," his sister, Rani Hafiz Khan, told the Pakistani ARY news channel by telephone.
The election will mark a historic transfer of power from one democratically elected government fulfilling its full term to another, something that has never happened in Pakistan's coup-checkered history.
But the vote has been marred by near-daily violence by militants targeting candidates and their election offices.