Imran Khan has warned the government he will march with millions in the capital unless an election is held in six days
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned the country’s government on Thursday that it would march on the capital with millions in six days unless provincial assemblies are dissolved and new elections are held. here there.
Khan issued the ultimatum to a rally of thousands of protesters in Islamabad, where he called for the “imported government” to be overthrown, insisting that he is backed by foreign powers.
A former cricketer-turned-politician, Khan was Pakistan’s prime minister for more than three-and-a-half years before being ousted in a vote of no confidence in parliament last month. He insists his removal was orchestrated by the United States in collusion with members of the current government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Khan hinted that he had received threats from US officials for his refusal to bow to Washington’s demands and support sanctions against Russia for his actions in Ukraine.
Since his ousting, Khan has held several rallies across the country, calling “all pakistanis” take to the streets to “send a message across Pakistan that the nation has rejected this imported government.”
On Wednesday, Khan said he would take part in a sit-in demonstration in central Islamabad with thousands of supporters until his demands were met. However, on Thursday morning, after authorities called in the army to protect the city center, he said he would leave Islamabad, threatening to return with “the whole nation” in six days if new elections do not take place.
He went on to accuse the government of taking the nation “towards anarchy” and try to drive a wedge between the people and the police.
“I had decided to sit here until the government dissolves the assemblies and announces elections, but from what I have seen in the past 24 hours, they (the government) are leading the nation towards the end. ‘anarchy”, he was quoted as saying by the Dawn news site.
Khan condemned the government for attempting to silence and intimidate peaceful protesters by raiding their homes and arresting people participating in his party’s march.
“The government tried every method to crush our Azadi march, they used tear gas in peaceful protests, our homes were raided and the privacy of homes was violated; however, I have seen the nation liberated from the fear of slavery,” he said.
Khan noted that three protesters lost their lives during protests in Karachi, while two others were thrown from a bridge and thousands more were arrested after some of the protests around the country turned violent.
On Wednesday, the ousted prime minister called on his supporters to gather in D-Chowk – a town square located near several vital government buildings – and not to leave the square until the “imported government” announces new elections.
After thousands of protesters started pouring in, the Pakistani government authorized the deployment of military troops to protect its headquarters in the capital. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah tweeted that the army would be deployed to protect key government buildings in Islamabad’s red zone, such as the Supreme Court, Parliament and diplomatic enclaves like the US Embassy .
The government led by Prime Minister Sharif had pledged to prevent Khan’s supporters from entering the capital, calling their rally an attempt to “Dividing the nation and fostering chaos.” Authorities even set up dozens of shipping containers and cargo trucks to block roads to Islamabad ahead of Wednesday’s marches.
“The politics of dharna [sit-in] is detrimental to progress and stability,” Sharif tweeted on Wednesday.
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