Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan announces march on capital
Leader ousted in a no-confidence vote in April pushes on supporters to attend protest on Friday to demand for early elections ‘immediately’. Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he will launch a protest march with his supporters from the eastern city of Lahore to the capital on Friday to seek for early elections. Smaller demonstrations by Khan’s fans took happened last week after Pakistan’s highest electoral tribunal declared Khan guilty of illegally selling gifts from foreign dignitaries and heads of state and removed him from his parliamentary seat.
“I have decided to undertake the long march from Friday at 11am [06:00 GMT] from Liberty Square in Lahore to Islamabad,” Khan stated at a news conference in Lahore on Tuesday. The distance between the two cities is roughly 380km (236 miles) (236 miles) (236 miles).
“I am marching to persuade the government to announce elections immediately,” he remarked, adding that his fans and party members should avoid violence. “This will be the biggest lengthy march in the country’s history.”
The government has previously claimed protestors would be prohibited from entering Islamabad and they plan to deploy about 30,000 law enforcement agents to surround the capital for safety.
Authorities also hauled hundreds of containers into Islamabad to restrict all access points before the protestors arrive.
Since being booted from power in a no-confidence vote in the assembly in April, Khan has coordinated rallies around the nation pushing for fast elections, but the government has declared they would be conducted as planned in October or November next year.
Last week’s ruling has contributed to the political and economic concerns gripping Pakistan this year. The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was accused of exploiting his 2018 to 2022 premiership to purchase and sell assets in state custody that were obtained on travels abroad and valued more over 140 million Pakistani rupees ($635,000). The Election Commission of Pakistan determined that Khan would be removed from his position in parliament but did not impose a lengthier ban from public office, which under Pakistani law may be up to five years.
The political instability has bred economic uncertainty with international ratings agencies wondering whether the present administration can sustain tough economic measures in the face of political pressure and imminent elections.
In his address, Khan also attacked the death of notable Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya by local authorities, alleging Sharif was pushed to quit the country because his life was in danger