Imran Khan gives Pakistani government an ultimatum to call elections

The former prime minister is burning the midnight oil to regain power a month and a half after being ousted in a no-confidence motion
Imran Khan

AFP/FAROOQ NAEEM  -   Activists and supporters of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party arrive to attend a rally next to a billboard with an image of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on March 27, 2022

Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan on Thursday gave the Pakistani government a six-day ultimatum to call a general election, or else he threatened to press ahead with more mass protests. 

"I am giving a six-day ultimatum to the 'imported government', they must dissolve the assemblies within the next six days and announce new elections," Khan said in a speech to thousands of his supporters in Islamabad. 

"Otherwise, I will march back to Islamabad with hundreds of thousands of people," the deposed leader warned supporters of his political party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). 

Khan began a large march towards the Pakistani capital yesterday that ended in numerous clashes between his supporters and the police, who used tear gas to disperse the thousands of supporters who demanded early elections to the government of Sheshbaz Sharif. 

Following his departure from the government on 9 April following a no-confidence motion, Khan began a tough "freedom campaign", announcing a series of protests across the country. 

The Supreme Court yesterday granted Khan permission to hold the large march, after Sharif's government objected, fearing they would enter the so-called "Red Zone", which houses embassies and foreign missions. 

A day before the start of the protest, which began in the northern city of Peshawar, one of the main strongholds of Khan's party, the formation denounced the arrest of more than 400 of its workers in an attempt to boycott "the biggest political march in the country". 

Prior to the Supreme Court's decision, the authorities also tried to stop PTI supporters by deploying heavy contingents of police and paramilitary forces, as well as blocking roads leading to the capital. 

Khan became the first minister in the country's history to be removed from office through a no-confidence motion. 

The former prime minister continues to accuse the US of supporting the opposition to overthrow him and change Pakistan's regime, accusations that Washington has always denied. 

Before him, Shaukat Aziz in 2006 and Benazir Bhutto in 1989 survived movements against him. But no prime minister in Pakistan's history has managed to complete his term in office since the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 and its independence from the British Empire.