Pakistan’s disputed former prime minister has called for a march in Islamabad

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is hostile to Pakistan, on Sunday called for a peaceful march in Islamabad May 25 to pressure his supporters for new elections.

Khan, who served as prime minister for more than three-and-a-half years, was ousted by a no-confidence vote in parliament by an alliance of all major political parties. Since his ouster, he has addressed rallies in several cities as he rallied in the capital on Wednesday for a great show of strength.

Khan’s call came after a marathon session of leaders of his Tehreek-e-Insaf party in the northwestern city of Peshawar. He described the move as a step towards defending the country’s sovereignty, as he alleged that the vote to remove him was a US-organized plot.

In his speech, Khan called on the authorities not to oppose the march, which would gain strength outside Islamabad before heading to the city center. There, he said, his supporters would remain until parliament was dissolved and new elections were held. Thousands of people have come to his rally in the past.

Home Minister Rana Sanaullah warned supporters of Khan not to get in trouble during the march and accused Khan of misleading the youth – a font of his popularity – for political gain.

Khan claims that the United States wanted him to leave because of his foreign policy preferences for Russia and China, and on February 24 he paid a visit to Moscow, where he held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin when Russian tanks entered Ukraine. He added that the United States “disliked” his harsh criticism of Washington’s war on terror. The US State Department has denied any involvement in Pakistan’s internal politics.

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