Code 147170
PublishDate: Monday, October 28, 2019 22:55

Pakistani marchers head for Islamabad in challenge to Imran Khan

Thousands of protesters are on converging on Pakistan's capital to demand the removal of Imran Khan, in a mass march seen as one of the first major tests of opposition power since the prime minister took office last year.
The Azadi march led by the hardline religious Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) party set off in convoys from different points across the country on Sunday and is expected to arrive in Islamabad on Thursday.
The march is backed by other opposition parties who accuse Mr Khan of running an incompetent and illegitimate government that they allege came to power through military backing and a fraudulent election.
Opposition leaders hope to capitalise on public discontent over a plummeting rupee, high inflation and painful tax hikes brought on by economic headwinds.
“The country's survival is in jeopardy right now,” the JUI-F leader Fazl-ur-Rehman told crowds in the southern city of Sukkur on Monday. “The country's economy is sinking.”
He went on: “All political parties and organisations and individuals affiliated with every sector are fed up with this government, whether journalists or doctors, lawyers or businessmen. All want to get rid of this oppression.”
Before his election, Mr Khan harnessed similar street power to hold marches and sit-ins that sapped support for the previous government. Analysts say JUI-F has a strong local network of religious schools and grass-roots groups which could mobilise a large turnout in Islamabad. Some estimates have suggested the march could bring


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