Imran Khan calls for mass civil disobedience in Pakistan until PM steps down

Former cricketer calls on Nawaz Sharif to step down over alleged voting fraud

Imran Khan smiles to supporters after his speech during the fourth day of the ‘freedom march’ in Islamabad yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

Imran Khan smiles to supporters after his speech during the fourth day of the ‘freedom march’ in Islamabad yesterday. Photograph: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

 

Pakistani politician Imran Khan has called on thousands of anti-government protesters to stop paying taxes and to practise civil disobedience until prime minister Nawaz Sharif steps down, raising fears of instability in the nuclear-armed US ally.

Mr Khan, a former international cricketer who heads the parliament’s third largest bloc, made the announcement yesterday at a rally in the capital Islamabad calling for Mr Sharif to step down over alleged voting fraud in the May 2013 election, the first democratic transfer of power in a country with a long history of military dictatorships.

Mr Khan also warned that his supporters would take over parliament if Mr Sharif did not resign within two days.

“We decide today that we will not pay taxes to his illegitimate government, we will not pay electricity bills, gas bills,” Mr Khan said to a charged crowd that was estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 people.

“I urge all the traders to stop paying taxes.”

Mr Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, a dual Canadian citizen with a large following who spends most of his time abroad, have mounted twin protests that have brought thousands of people into the streets in Islamabad. –(PA)