Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan addresses huge rally in Lahore

Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan addresses huge rally in Lahore
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed a rally of thousands in Lahore on Saturday, despite alleged attempts by the government and the police to prevent crowds from gathering.
3 min read
26 March, 2023
Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan addresses his supporters from behind a bulletproof screen [ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty]

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday held a massive rally in Lahore, Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province, addressing tens of thousands of people from behind a bulletproof screen.

Echoing the messages he has reiterated for months, the cricketer-turned-politician called for early elections and accused the country’s powerful military for meddling in politics that has left Pakistan on the brink of an economic disaster

This was, according to Khan's aides,the first time he addressed a rally since he was shot and wounded while leading an anti-government protest last November, an assassination bid he blamed on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

The massive turnout was in spite of alleged attempts by the government and security forces to stifle the rally. Shipping containers had reportedly been placed at entry and exit routes in Lahore, complicating travel, while local security forces cited terror threats as an argument for raising security and closing off streets.

Khan presented a roadmap for economic recovery during his address, arguing that the states does not collect enough taxes and that major changes needed to be made to fix Pakistan’s economy. 

"Overseas Pakistanis will bring their dollars to the country provided they are given incentives," TRT World reported Khan as saying.

He reportedly said that only 2.5 million out of Pakistan’s 220 million paid their taxes according to TRT World. 

He also reportedly proposed giving loans to young people to start their own businesses, and bringing back a mortgage scheme that he had introduced when in power. 

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Imran Khan was ousted from power following a parliamentary no-confidence vote in April last year. Since then, he has organised massive rallies calling for early elections, and has repeatedly alleged that the new government under Shahbaz Sharif and foreign powers had a hand in his removal. 

A number of court cases have been filed against Khan, and a arrest warrant for the former leader was dropped last week following clashes between his supporters and police in Lahore. 

This comes as Pakistan grapples with a massive financial and economic crisis, which was exacerbated by the devastating floods last year. The International Monetary Fund has imposed harsh conditions for Islamabad to receive a bailout package, which is likely to bring further hardship to the people.