14th May, 2023
Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan called for nationwide “freedom” protests, following his brief arrest and confinement last week.
He made the call in an address broadcast on YouTube on Saturday night.
“Freedom does not come easily. You have to snatch it. You have to sacrifice for it” he said.
Khan called for protests “at the end of your streets and villages” around the country and announced a return to campaigning for early elections on Wednesday.
The former cricket great, who has been involved in dozens of court issues since being deposed from office in April last year, was released on bail on Friday after the Supreme Court ruled that his arrest was illegal.
Enraged by Khan’s detention, fans set fire to government buildings, blocked roads, and vandalised military property, blaming it for Khan’s collapse.
For months, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party leader has launched a defiant campaign against the military.
His arrest on Tuesday came only hours after he was chastised for suggesting high officials were involved in an assassination plot against him last year.
Pakistan’s powerful military has ruled the country directly for roughly half of its 75-year history and continues to hold power over the political system.
“The army chief’s actions have made our military bad. It is because of him, not because of me,” Khan said from his home in Lahore, although it was unclear whether he meant the serving chief, or his predecessor, whom Khan has held responsible for his ouster.
He previously informed reporters that “one man, the army chief,” was behind his incarceration.
However, Khan distanced himself from the protestors’ attacks on military installations, denying that his party employees were participating and calling for an impartial probe into the violence.
The army, which denies Khan’s charges, issued a warning on Saturday against attempts to generate “misperceptions” about the institution.