LAHORE // Doctors today ordered Pakistani politician Imran Khan to rest in bed until further notice, jeopardising the final days of his election campaign as his party sought to capitalise on a sympathy vote.
The man tipped to win Saturday's polls, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, suspended campaigning in honour of Mr Khan, whom aides say will still address a final election rally on Thursday, even if it has to be from hospital.
The retired cricket star and head of the Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI) party suffered head and back injuries on Tuesday night when he fell from a forklift truck raising him onto a platform at a campaign rally.
Television footage aired Wednesday showed him flat on his back in hospital, wearing a neck brace, and looking pale and groggy after his fall in the city of Lahore.
Doctors have advised at least two days' rest to recover from injuries to his scalp, vertebrae and one rib, although they are not life-threatening.
A television statement given from his bed overnight, in which the 60-year-old former cricket captain urged people to vote for his party, has since been re-released as a "paid content" advertisement for his PTI party.
"I did whatever I could for this country. Now remember 11th May, come out and vote for PTI without considering its candidates, just vote for PTI," he said weakly.
"Mr Khan has been advised bed rest for the next one or two days and after that doctors will review his condition and decide accordingly," Doctor Faisal Sultan, the head of the private Shaukat Khanum hospital, told reporters.
"The exact duration of how long he will require bed rest or immobilisation will be decided as time goes on," he added, speaking in English.
Mr. Khan's spinal canal is intact and "he is in total control of all limbs and body functions," the doctor said.
Senior party official Shah Mehmood Qureshi said PTI's campaign finale – a rally outside parliament in Islamabad – would go ahead as planned on Thursday evening.
"Wherever he is, in any condition, even from the ICU (intensive care unit) he will address the nation in the last moments of the campaign," Mr. Qureshi said.
It remains unclear whether Mr. Khan's injuries will affect his performance at the polls, with most commentators expecting him to do well enough to become a strong opposition but not to form a government.
Saturday's vote will mark a democratic milestone in a country ruled for half its history by the military, as the first time a civilian government has served a full term and handed over to another through the ballot box.