Ousted PM Imran Khan announces march on Pakistan’s capital

Multan, Pakistan, Oct 25 (EFE).- Imran Khan, who was removed as Pakistan’s prime minister in April by parliament, said Tuesday that he will lead a march to the capital to demand the resignation of current premier Shehbaz Sharif and the calling of fresh elections.

“This is our march for haqeeqi azaadi (real freedom),” Khan told reporters, adding that the procession will begin at 11:00 am Friday from Lahore, Pakistan’s second city.

“I am predicting this will be the biggest sea of people in the history of the country,” the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party said of the numbers he expects to join him on the 378-km (235-mi) journey to the capital, Islamabad.

The 70-year-old ousted prime minister said that the aim of the march is to reclaim the power of voters to choose the government.

“We want that the people make the decision. Do we want to go on this way of becoming a free country or serve these thieves,” Khan said, referring to the coalition government led by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).

In May, weeks after his removal through a censure motion, the captain of the Pakistani national team that won the World Cricket Cup in 1992 announced a march to Islamabad from Peshawar.

But authorities intervened to prevent the mobilization.

“We held a peaceful protest on May 25 but they inflicted violence on us. And if I had not called it off then the next day there really would’ve been discord and blood in the country,” Khan said Tuesday.

The former premier made his announcement in the wake of the death in exile of prominent Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif, fatally shot Sunday in Nairobi during an encounter with Kenyan police, who said that officers mistook the car carrying the journalist for that of a suspect in a child abduction.

Sharif, a supporter of the PTI, fled Pakistan in August after being charged with sedition over his criticism of the country’s powerful military.

Rejecting the explanation offered by Kenyan police, Khan said that Sharif’s death was the result of a “targeted attack.”

Though Khan was the first Pakistani prime minister to be removed through the mechanism of parliamentary censure, no premier in the country’s 75-year-long history has served a full term in office.

Khan continues to maintain that the United States worked with the opposition to remove him because Washington was angry about his decision to go forward with a trip to Moscow on Feb, 24, the day Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

The US denies any involvement.

Khan’s thesis of a foreign conspiracy is based on a cable from Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington about ostensible threats from the US aimed at influencing parliament to oust the prime minister.

An unnamed US official, according to a diplomatic cable Khan made public, told the envoy that “Pakistan will have to face consequences” if the Khan government survived the no-confidence vote. EFE aa-mvg/dr

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