Ex-Pakistani PM calls for march on Islamabad

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Defiant former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday called on his supporters to peacefully march on Islamabad on May 25, to push for new elections.

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

Khan’s call came after a marathon session of his Tahrik-e-Insaf party leaders in the northwestern city of Peshawar. He describes the march as a move to protect the country’s sovereignty, as he alleges the vote that removed him was a plot organized by the United States.

In his speech, Khan urged authorities not to oppose the march, which will gain strength outside Islamabad before heading into the city center. There, he says, his supporters will remain until parliament is dissolved and new elections are called. Thousands of people have come to his rallies in the past.

Khan says America wanted him out because of his foreign policy choices in favor of Russia and China, and a visit he made Feb. 24 to Moscow, where he interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin as Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine. He also said the United States did not like his vehement criticism of Washington’s war on terror. The US State Department has denied any involvement in Pakistan’s domestic politics.

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