Pakistan's Imran Khan issues ultimatum for early polls at Islamabad rally

Pakistan's Imran Khan issues ultimatum for early polls at Islamabad rally By A Robin - May 27, 2022
Imran Khan

Imran Khan

Since being removed from power, the former prime minister has heaped pressure on Pakistan's new government by staging protest rallies, reiterating a claim he was ousted in a "foreign conspiracy".

Pakistan's ousted prime minister Imran Khan has warned the government to stage fresh elections or face more mass protests, after leading thousands to the capital Islamabad in a showdown with his political rivals.

His Thursday morning address was the culmination of a chaotic 24 hours, which saw the capital blockaded and clashes break out between police and protesters across the country.

The government had attempted to prevent the convoy from reaching the capital by shutting down all entry and exit points around the city, but was forced to allow in the protesters by an emergency Supreme Court order.

"I want to give a message to this imported government to announce elections within six days. Dissolve the assemblies and call an election in June," Khan told a thinned out crowds of thousands.

He warned that he would return to stage a fresh rally next week if elections were not scheduled, and called on his supporters to disperse. 

The coalition government has repeatedly said it has no plans to hold an election.

In his address, the cricket star-turned-politician claimed that five of his supporters were killed in violence across the country. There was no immediate comment from the government about Khan's claim.

Since being removed from power through a no-confidence vote last month, Khan has heaped pressure on the country's new coalition rulers by staging mass protests, touting a claim he was ousted in a "foreign conspiracy".

Khan's supporters march on

Thousands of supporters of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party heeded his call to march to the capital from nearby cities on Wednesday.

But confrontations erupted between police and protesters, who attempted to remove roadblocks on key highways to join the convoy.

Police repeatedly used teargas on protesters in the capital, as well as the cities of Lahore, Rawalpindi and Karachi.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said it was "deeply concerned by the highhandedness of law enforcement agencies" in disrupting the march. 

"The state's overreaction has triggered, more than it has prevented, violence on the streets," it tweeted.

The government headed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had pledged to stop the protesters from entering the capital, calling the rally an attempt to "divide the nation and promote chaos".

But as chaos was breaking out around the country, the Supreme Court granted permission for PTI to stage its rally on the edge of the city.

More than 1,700 people have been arrested since police began raiding the homes of PTI supporters on Monday night, said Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, who has previously accused protesters of planning to carry weapons at the march.

TRT World

By A Robin - May 27, 2022

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