Pakistan’s ex-premier calls off planned sit-in, demands vote

May 25, 2022, 12:08 PM | Updated: May 26, 2022, 9:31 am
Supporters of Pakistan’s defiant former Prime Minister Imran Khan, center, addresses during an an...

Supporters of Pakistan’s defiant former Prime Minister Imran Khan, center, addresses during an anti government rally, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, May 26, 2022. Khan early Thursday warned Pakistan's government to set new elections in the next six days or he will again march on the capital along with 3 million people. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

(AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s defiant former Prime Minister Imran Khan called off a planned, open-ended sit-in in Islamabad on Thursday, temporarily assuaging fears of a protracted civil conflict after he led thousands on a march toward Parliament and demanded the government’s resignation.

Khan’s followers began converging on the Pakistani capital on Wednesday, with some 10,000 reaching the city center around midnight. Khan himself entered Islamabad as part of a large convoy of cars, buses and trucks, with demonstrators waving flags and rallying overnight. Some of his supporters clashed with police outside Parliament.

Khan gave Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif — who replaced him in April — less than a week to call for new elections, warning that if his government didn’t comply, Khan would return to the capital with 3 million supporters.

“I am giving you six days,” Khan said from a sound truck parked on the central Jinnah Avenue early Thursday, demanding also the dissolution of Parliament. “If you don’t do it after six days, I will return,” he said.

Hours later, Sharif said he was open to talks with Khan but that any decision about an early vote would be made by parliament. “You cannot dictate to us. No such blackmailing from you will be accepted,” he said to applause inside the National Assembly..

Sharif also met with police officers and paramilitary Rangers in Islamabad on Thursday to personally thank them for wisely handling the protesters — without firing a single bullet. Authorities said more than 100 policemen were injured in clashes with demonstrators on Wednesday.

Khan, a former cricket star turned Islamist politician, was prime minister for over three and half years until he was ousted last month by a no-confidence vote in Parliament. Since then, he has held rallies across the country, saying his removal from office was the result of a U.S.-organized plot. Washington has denied the allegation, and Sharif has called Khan’s claim “a pack of lies.”

On Wednesday, clashes erupted in the eastern city of Lahore, when riot police fired tear gas and pushed back hundreds of pro-Khan demonstrators who hurled stones as they tried to pass a roadblocked bridge near the city to board buses bound for Islamabad.

Dozens of Khan’s followers clashed with police in Islamabad, where the demonstrators set fire to bushes lining a main boulevard, sending smoke and flames rising into the sky. Altercations were also reported elsewhere, including in Karachi, where demonstrators burned a police vehicle.

The government says it has arrested more than 1,700 Khan supporters in the past 48 hours.

Life gradually returned to normalcy across the country on Thursday, after Khan called off the sit-in. That surprised even some of his supporters who continued scuffling with police near the parliament building.

Khan lost his grip on power in April when some members of his Tehreek-e-Insaf party and a key coalition partner defected ahead of the April no-confidence vote, which he also blamed on the United States.

His popularity took a dive in the final months of his rule because of increasing inflation — but in the weeks since his ouster, he has regained some of the losses mainly thanks to his rhetoric against the U.S. and Sharif’s government.

Wednesday’s march on Islamabad was Khan’s largest rally over the past few weeks. He personally led thousands of supporters from the northwestern city of Peshawar, urging his countrymen to reach Islamabad together with women and children to “liberate” Pakistan from the U.S.-imposed government.

Khan and his party had been urging crowds to march to the square in front of Parliament, where he was to join them. He gave no reason for calling off the sit-in.

Authorities claim Khan ended his rally after seeing poor popular response, with the crowd numbering only between 10,000 and 15,000.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo from Flickr...
Associated Press

Respite center opens to families of those who died in combat

A respite center for families in the United States who have lost loved ones in combat since 9/11 will open Friday on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula.
21 hours ago
Downtown Vancouver Washington Photo from Flickr...
Associated Press

Vancouver City Council bans large fossil fuel facilities

The city council in Vancouver, Washington, has approved a permanent ban on new fossil fuel developments after years of temporary moratoriums.
21 hours ago
Soccer fans chant slogans during vigil for the victims of Saturday's deadly crush, in Malang, East ...
Associated Press

AP Week in Pictures: Asia

Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2022 This photo gallery highlights some of the most compelling images made or published by Associated Press photographers in Asia and the Pacific. The gallery was curated by AP photo editor Masayo Yoshida in Tokyo. Follow AP visual journalism: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/apnews AP Images on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP_Images AP Images blog: http://apimagesblog.com Copyright © […]
21 hours ago
FILE - A TV screen showing a news program reporting about North Korea's missile launch with file fo...
Associated Press

US carrier, S Korea warships start new drills amid tensions

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan launched a new round of naval drills with South Korean warships on Friday, a day after North Korea fired more ballistic missiles and flew warplanes in an escalation of tensions with its rivals. The Reagan and its battle group returned to the waters […]
21 hours ago
FILE - This undated photo released by the Arizona Attorney General's Office shows Guillermina Fuent...
Associated Press

Arizona woman seeks leniency in ballot harvesting case

PHOENIX (AP) — A parade of character witnesses provided a judge Thursday with glowing reports about a southern Arizona woman who admitted collecting four voted early ballots in the 2020 primary election, as her lawyer seeks leniency and prosecutors urge him to send her to prison for a year. Testimony in Yuma County Superior Court […]
21 hours ago
Leaders attend the Ministerial Meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group during the 52nd Ge...
Associated Press

Support for Venezuela’s opposition is dwindling at OAS

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Venezuela’s opposition suffered a rebuff Thursday as 19 members of the Organization of American States backed a proposal to remove its envoy from the regional forum for political and economic issues. Although the proposal failed to get the two-thirds marjority, or 24 votes, needed to be put on the agenda of […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Pakistan’s ex-premier calls off planned sit-in, demands vote