Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan addresses huge rally in Lahore
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.
Despite cabal of crooks locking down Lahore (see map) & arresting 2000 of our workers, people of Lahore came in huge numbers to make our 6th Minar-i-Pakistan jalsa a great success. I want to especially thank my Lahorites for not letting me down yet again. Proud of you. pic.twitter.com/rrRiRx5uSl— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 26, 2023
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.
Another massive show of strength by Imran Khan in Lahore. Court cases and arrests don’t decrease, rather increase a political leader’s popularity. A power-drunk regime fails to understand that. pic.twitter.com/ksKfnqiFZm— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) March 25, 2023
"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.
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.