Imran Khan calls for massive rally as his angry supporters hit streets after regime change

Khan vows to fight what he calls foreign-backed conspiracy to remove him

Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 12 April 2022 12:26 BST
Imran Khan calls for fresh elections after no-confidence vote against him shot down

Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Imran Khan has called for a massive public rally to mobilise his supporters after being thrown out of power following a no-confidence vote in parliament.

Mr Khan, who had been determined to fight back, called for a “jalsa” or a public rally, at Peshawar in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan on Wednesday. This will be Mr Khan’s first public address following the election of opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif as his successor.

Mr Khan repeated on Tuesday his allegations that he has been ousted from power by a foreign-backed conspiracy but gave no evidence to back his claim.

“On Wednesday I will be holding a jalsa in Peshawar after Isha, my first jalsa after being removed through a foreign-instigated regime change. I want all our people to come, as Pakistan was created as an independent, sovereign state not as a puppet state of foreign powers,” he said in a tweet.

He demanded immediate polls and said the decision of the people “through fair and free elections” is the only way to move forward.

On Monday, Mr Sharif, who led the bid to oust Mr Khan, was elected the new prime minister with 174 votes in his favour after more than 100 politicians of the former prime minister’s party staged a walkout from the national assembly in protest.

Angry supporters of the former prime minister hit the streets on Monday night after the new prime minister was announced by parliament.

Hundreds of supporters of Mr Khan’s political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) raised slogans, raised flags, and blocked roads to protest what they called an “installed government”.

The speaker of the parliament Asad Qaiser, who resigned from his position on Sunday during a no-confidence vote against Mr Khan, received a rousing welcome from a crowd of protesters in the city of Swabi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

In a video shared by PTI, Mr Qaiser was seen waving to the demonstrators who raised slogans and flashed lights in his support.

A similar show of support for the ousted leader was seen in some of the cities of the UK, US, Canada and Dubai where admirers chanted slogans of “Pakistan zindabad” and “Imran Khan zindabad”.

Khan had alleged that a “threat letter” had shown evidence of a “foreign conspiracy” trying to topple his coalition government. Though he initially named the US as the country behind this threat, he later claimed it was a slip of the tongue. Washington has categorically denied any involvement.

In London’s Ilford, a huge crowd of Pakistani-Americans gathered on Monday night after Mr Sharif was sworn in as prime minister of Pakistan.

The supporters of Mr Khan’s party clashed with supporters of Mr Sharif in front of the house of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is the brother of Pakistan’s new leader.

Supporters of the new prime minister celebrated with fireworks and sweets after his oath-taking ceremony on Monday.

Mr Khan, the cricket-star-turned politician, became the first Pakistani prime minister to be ousted by a no-confidence vote in the early hours of Sunday and the latest leader to end his term prematurely in a country with a history of none of its prime ministers completing a full term.

Mr Khan, who took office in 2018, was blamed by opponents for record-high inflation, economic woes, and was criticised for his foreign policy.

According to ARY news, Mr Khan is expected to call for a nationwide strike from Sunday against the regime change as the PTI plans rallies and protests in coming weeks.

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