Ex-Pakistan Premier Khan calls off protest march ‘to avoid chaos’
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has called off the ‘long march’ to the capital Islamabad fearing chaos and announced his party would resign from state assemblies in a new bid to push for early elections.
“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 in his first public address in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near the capital since an assassination attempt earlier this month.
Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said Khan made a passionate plea to his supporters saying “chaos” would not be in the interest of Pakistan given that the country is facing an economic crisis. The South Asian nation has been facing a dire economic situation – with galloping inflation and a nosediving rupee. It also had to secure an International Monetary Fund loan in August to avert default.
The cricketer-turned-politician and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party have been holding countrywide protests to push the government for early elections since he was removed as prime minister in a vote of no confidence in April. He has claimed he was removed as part of a US-led conspiracy. Though earlier this month, he said the US was not behind his ouster in a major U-turn.
The protests were to culminate in a march to Islamabad, which threatened to worsen political turmoil in the nuclear-armed country which is battling an economic crisis. A rally in Islamabad by his supporters in May had turned violent. One of his biggest announcements was the plans to quit the two provincial assemblies and two administrative units.