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Pakistani Opposition Alliance Holds Rally To Demand Khan's Resignation

Supporters of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of political opposition parties, demonstrate in Gujranwala, Pakistan, on October 16.
Supporters of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of political opposition parties, demonstrate in Gujranwala, Pakistan, on October 16.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Karachi, Pakistan, on October 18 in support of an opposition alliance that has vowed to topple the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Nine major opposition parties formed the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) last month to begin a nationwide movement to oust Khan. They say Khan won the 2018 general election only with help from the country's military, which has an oversized role in the domestic and foreign affairs of the South Asian nation.

People streamed into Karachi from villages and towns in order to join the protest.

Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, told reporters the turnout showed the level of public support for the opposition movement. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is a member of the alliance.

It was the second rally organized by the PDM in three days. The first took place in Gujranwala on October 16 and was the biggest demonstration against Khan since he took office.

Sharif, who is already facing sedition charges for criticizing the military for interference in politics, on October 16 crossed a new line by saying that the incumbent army chief was behind his ouster.

Speaking on a video link from London to the Gujranwala gathering, Sharif accused army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa of rigging the 2018 elections and orchestrating his ouster in 2017.

The military denies meddling in politics or electoral wrongdoing.

During the rally in Karachi, Maryam Nawaz accused Khan of snatching both jobs and “two-time-a-day food the people.”

Another opposition leader, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said Pakistan’s farmers “have hunger in their homes” and the country’s youth is “disappointed."

The protests come as the country's economy, which had already tanked before the global coronavirus pandemic, struggles with double digit inflation and negative growth.

Khan's two-year tenure has also seen mounting censorship and a crackdown on dissent, critics, and opposition leaders.

Khan has denied the army helped him win and said Sharif’s accusation against the army was part of a conspiracy at the behest of India.

The next general elections are scheduled for 2023.

With reporting by Reuters and dpa
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