Ex-Pakistan PM Imran Khan calls off march to avoid ‘chaos’ | News

Imran Khan also announced that his party would withdraw from the provincial assemblies in the first rally since his assassination attempt.

Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan has called off a “long march” to the capital Islamabad amid fears of chaos and said his party will withdraw from state assemblies in a bid to call early elections.

“I have decided not to go to Islamabad because I know there will be misery and damage to the country,” Khan said in his first public address in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near the capital, since the assassination attempt. month.

Al Jazeera’s Kamal Haider, reporting from Islamabad, said Khan made an impassioned appeal to his supporters, saying “chaos” would not be in Pakistan’s interest, given that the country is facing an economic crisis.

The South Asian country has been facing a dire economic situation with soaring inflation and a falling rupee. It also had to secure an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan in August to prevent default.

The cricketer and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party have been holding nationwide protests to urge the government to call early elections since he was ousted as prime minister in a no-confidence vote in April. He has claimed that he was removed because of a US-led conspiracy. Although earlier this month he said the US was close to ousting him in a major U-turn.

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The protests were due to end with a march on Islamabad, threatening to exacerbate political turmoil in the nuclear-armed nation struggling with an economic crisis. A rally by his supporters in Islamabad had turned violent in May.

Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party take part in a rally in Rawalpindi [Anjum Naveed/AP Photo]

PTI quits state assemblies

Among his biggest announcements were plans to withdraw from two provincial assemblies and two administrative units.

“We will not be part of this system. We have decided to withdraw from all assemblies and get out of this corrupt system,” Khan said, addressing thousands of his supporters.

The PTI has already resigned from the federal parliament, but remains in power in two provinces and two administrative units, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

An Al Jazeera correspondent said Khan’s decision to resign from Punjab’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa state assemblies was aimed at pressuring the government to call snap elections.

“Dismissal of state assemblies could lead to a serious crisis as the country will have no choice but to go to early elections, which Khan has been demanding since he was ousted as prime minister in April,” Haider reported.

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“Now the ball will be in the government’s court.”

Khan delivered his speech on Saturday hundreds of meters from the largest crowd of about 25,000 to 30,000 people, separated by barbed wire and a buffer of police.

In the Nov. 3 assassination attempt, a gunman opened fire at close range as Khan’s open-top truck drove through a crowded street in the city of Wazirabad in Punjab province.

Tight security was in place and a police official told local TV channel Geo TV that a total of 10,000 personnel were deployed at the event, with snipers deployed at various points to ensure Khan’s security.

The former prime minister has named Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif and a high-ranking military official for planning his assassination, but both the government and the military have denied involvement. Sharif has called for a transparent investigation. One person has been arrested in connection with this incident, who claimed to have acted alone.

Khan has not offered any evidence to prove his claims.

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Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Khan delivered his speech on Saturday hundreds of meters from the largest crowd of about 25,000 to 30,000 people, separated by barbed wire and a buffer of police. [Anjum Naveed/AP Photo]

‘Red Alert’

Home Minister Rana Sanaula, whom Khan accuses of involvement in the assassination plot, issued a “red alert” on Friday, warning of security threats at the rally.

The government says the assassination attempt was the work of a lone wolf, who is now in custody.

Saturday’s rally came two days after the government named a former spy chief as its next military leader.

The appointment of General Syed Asim Munir ended months of speculation over the position, long seen as the de facto power in the Islamic nation of more than 220 million people.

Munir served as chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency under Khan, but his post ended just eight months after the reported rift.

The PTI leader, who accused the hand of the military in his ouster, hailed the new military chief. He praised the military as a professional force, but added that they must respect the constitution.

Pakistan’s army, the sixth largest in the world, is very powerful in the country and has staged at least three coups since independence in 1947 during more than three decades of rule.

Pakistan's former prime minister and opposition leader Imran Khan.
In the Nov. 3 assassination attempt, a gunman opened fire at close range as Khan’s open-top truck drove through a crowded street in the city of Wazirabad in Punjab province. [Anjum Naveed/AP Photo]

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