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

In the first rally since the assassination attempt on Imran Khan, he announced his party’s resignation from the provincial assemblies.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called off a ‘long march’ to the capital Islamabad over fears of chaos and announced his party will resign from state assemblies in a fresh bid to push for early elections.

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

Al Jazeera’s Kamal Haider, reporting from Islamabad, said Khan made an impassioned appeal to his supporters that “chaos” was not in Pakistan’s interest as the country faced an economic crisis.

The South Asian nation is facing a dire economic situation – with inflation and a nosediving rupee. It had to seek an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan in August to avoid default.

The cricketer-turned-politician and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party have been leading protests across the country to push the government into early elections after he was sacked as prime minister in a no-confidence motion in April. He claimed that he was removed as part of a conspiracy led by the United States. Earlier this month, he said the U.S. was not behind expelling him in a major U-turn.

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The protests are expected to end in Islamabad in March, threatening to worsen political unrest in the nuclear-armed country struggling with an economic crisis. In May, a rally by his supporters in Islamabad turned violent.

Supporters of former Pakistan 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 to quit state assembly

One of his biggest announcements was the plan to do away with two provincial assemblies and two administrative units.

“We will not be part of this system. We have decided to quit all assemblies and get out of this corrupt system,” Khan said while addressing his thousands of 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 reporter said Khan’s decision to resign from the state assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was aimed at pressuring the government to call snap elections.

“The dissolution of state assemblies could create a major crisis as the country has no choice but to go for early elections — something Khan has been asking for since he was removed as prime minister in April,” Haider reported.

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“Now the ball is in the government’s court.”

Khan made his Saturday speech separated from the crowd of about 25,000 to 30,000 hundreds of meters away by coils of barbed wire and a buffer of police officers.

In the November 3 assassination attempt, a gunman opened fire at close range as Khan’s open-top container truck was driving through a busy road in Wazirabad city in Punjab province.

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

The former prime minister has named Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a senior military officer for plotting his assassination, but both the government and the military have denied involvement. Sharif has demanded a transparent investigation. A man has been arrested in connection with the incident and is said to have acted alone.

Khan has not provided any evidence to prove his claims.

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Supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Khan made his Saturday speech separated from the crowd of about 25,000 to 30,000 hundreds of meters away by coils of barbed wire and a buffer of police officers. [Anjum Naveed/AP Photo]

‘Red Alert’

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah – who is accused of involvement in the plot to assassinate Khan – 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 the former spymaster as the next military chief.

General Syed Asim Munir’s appointment ended months of speculation over the position of what is considered a real power in the nuclear-armed Islamic nation of more than 220 million people.

Munir Khan served as chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency under him, but his tenure ended after just eight months after the report.

The PTI leader, who has accused the army of being involved in his ouster, welcomed the new army chief. He praised the military as a professional force but added that they must obey the constitution.

Pakistan’s army, the sixth largest in the world, is hugely influential in the country and has staged at least three coups since independence in 1947, ruling for more than three decades.

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan and Leader of Opposition Imran Khan.
In the November 3 assassination attempt, a gunman opened fire at close range as Khan’s open-top container truck was driving through a busy road in Wazirabad city in Punjab province. [Anjum Naveed/AP Photo]

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