Former Pak PM Imran calls off march to avoid ‘chaos’

Wednesday 30th November 2022 05:51 EST

Islamabad: Former Pakistan 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.

Khan fervently pleaded with his supporters, stating that "chaos" would not serve Pakistan's interests given the nation's current economic situation.

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 (IMF) loan to avert default.

Since he was ousted as prime minister in a vote of no confidence in April, the cricketer-turned-politician and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party have been organising nationwide protests to pressure the government for early elections. He has claimed he was removed as part of a United States-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.

In the November 3 assassination attempt, a gunman opened fire from close range as Khan’s open-top container truck made its way through a crowded street in Wazirabad city in Punjab province.

Tight security was in place, and a police official told local television channel that a total of 10,000 personnel had been deployed for the event, with snipers positioned at various points for Khan’s security.

The former prime minister has named PM Shehbaz Sharif and a senior military official for plotting his assassination, but both the government and military have denied involvement. Sharif has called for a transparent inquiry. One person has been arrested over the incident and claimed to have acted alone.

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