Pakistan’s opposition leader, Imran Khan, has called for a future of “real democracy” in the country, following the dismissal of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister over corruption charges.
“We are thankful to the judiciary because with their judgment, they brought us a new hope,” Khan told a gathering of thousands of supporters on Sunday.
Thousands of supporters from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) party congregated at Islamabad’s parade ground on Sunday for what had been termed a “thanksgiving day”, the latest of Khan’s signature rallies that have helped him drum up popular support.
In front of flag-flying party cadres dressed in the red and green colours of PTI, among towers of loudspeakers blasting music, Khan likened Pakistan’s rulers to “mafia who safeguard personal interests at any cost”.
“When we decided to move against Nawaz in the Panama case, everyone said it was a mistake because in the past, the powerful and mighty ones have been protected. But today I salute the court for giving hope to people for a new Pakistan,” he said.
Since his political ascension in 2011, after 15 years in politics, Khan has drawn support particularly from educated urbanites disillusioned with their political elites.
“Imran Khan is fighting hard to let people know their political rights and their role in society. He has been a true example,” said Syed Ishfaq, face painted red and green, who had travelled to the capital from Peshawar to participate in the celebration.
Last year, Khan received a timely boost with the leak of the so-called Panama Papers, giving credence to his attacks against the political establishment, whom he has called “the coalition of the corrupt”.
After the leak, Khan filed a constitutional petition to have the supreme court investigate the purchase of high-end London property through offshore companies in the name of Sharif’s children, then minors.
He organised street protests and demanded a “lockdown” of Islamabad until the country’s highest court ordered an inquiry into the PM.