Islamabad, Nov 26 (EFE).- Ousted former Prime Minister Imran Khan said Saturday that his Pakistan Tekreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party plans to give up the seats it holds in the country’s provincial assemblies with the aim of forcing the central government to call early elections.
Making his first public appearance since surviving an assassination attempt on Nov. 3, the 70-year-old PTI leader told supporters in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, that he had abandoned plans to lead the party’s “long march” into the capital city.
“I have decided not to go to Islamabad because I know there will be havoc, and the loss will be to the country,” Khan said while sitting in a wheelchair with one leg in a cast as a result of the injuries he suffered in the shooting days after the start of march.
“We will not be part of this system. We have decided to quit all the assemblies and get out of this corrupt system,” he said.
PTI members resigned from the National Assembly in April to protest Khan’s removal in a no-confidence vote, but the party has remained in government in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in the administrative units of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.
“I will consult all chief ministers and party leaders to leave the assemblies,” Khan said, speaking from behind bulletproof glass.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government prohibited Khan’s supporters from entering Islamabad and authorities on Saturday set up roadblocks on the highways linking Rawalpindi with the capital.
Security forces also sealed off Islamabad’s Red Zone, where most foreign embassies are located, and deployed thousands of police to prevent protesters from slipping into the city.
But the 70-year-old Khan, who captained the Pakistani national team that won the World Cricket Cup in 1992, said that protests will continue until Sharif agrees to move forward the elections now set for Fall 2023.
“It took me three days from Karachi to Rawalpindi, where I will remain as long as Imran Khan asks us,” PTI supporter Abdul Waheed told EFE. “If he can take bullets for us, why can’t we come from distant areas such as Karachi? Our blood is for Khan now.”
Khan has accused Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and army intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Faisal Naseer of being behind the assassination attempt that left one person dead and nine wounded.
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.
Pakistan has been under direct rule by the army for half of its existence. EFE aa-hbc/dr