ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Ousted Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s sudden disappearance from the party’s long march left the media and the participants speculating.
The party’s Secretary General Asad Umar announced that Khan has left for Lahore to attend a “very important meeting”, but that didn’t stop the audience digging into the story.
Amid rising speculation about talks under way between the PTI chief and the powers that be after his sudden departure from the procession, Imran Khan took on twitter to quash rumors.
“For all those spreading rumours about my meeting in Lahore, the reason we returned was because Lahore was closer and we had already decided not to move at night,” he tweeted.
Earlier, prime minister Shehbaz Sharif formed a 13-member committee regarding the long march, saying that if anyone wanted talks, he could talk to the committee, according to sources.
In the tweet, Khan reiterated if talks were to be held, his only demand would be the date for early elections.
“The only demand I have had for six months is date for early fair and free elections,” he exclaimed. “That will be the ONLY demand if talks are to be held.”
Meanwhile, Senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry snubbed the negotiations committee formed by Prime Minister Shehbaz as “frivolous”, alleging that the government was not serious about the talks.
“There is news of the formation of a frivolous committee,” Chaudhry said, as The Express Tribune quoted. “These are tricks to only engage the Azadi March, and they won’t work.”
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On Friday, ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan, including thousands of supporters, started a long-promised march on Friday to Pakistani capital Islamabad, challenging Shahbaz Sharif’s government and demands for early elections.
Roughly 10,000 demonstrators left easter city of Lahore Friday. A huge number of people piled into hundreds of trucks and cars, while many others marched on foot.
The convoy’s route — known as the Grand Trunk Road — covers a distance of 300 kilometers (187 miles) and is expected to include frequent stops, with political speeches and rallies in towns and urban areas along the way, as the Arab News reported.
Addressing supporters before the departure from Lahore, Khan described the endeavor as a “peaceful march” and claimed his political struggle against the government would continue until Sharif’s administration agrees to hold early elections.
But the government has repeatedly said the elections will be held as scheduled, in 2023.
Meanwhile, Khan maintains his ouster in a parliament no-confidence vote in April was unlawful, and a conspiracy by his political opponents orchestrated by the United States. However, both Washington and Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, denied.