'Freedom struggle': Protests across country following Imran Khan's ouster
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Sunday took out rallies in several cities of the country to protest against the ouster of former prime minister and party chairman Imran Khan through a successful vote of no-confidence the previous night.
Karachi, Peshawar, Malakand, Multan, Khanewal, Khyber, Jhang, Quetta, Okara, Islamabad, Lahore and Abbottabad are among the cities were large demonstrations were held. Protests were also staged in Bajaur, Lower Dir, Shangla, Kohistan, Mansehra, Swat, Gujrat, Faisalabad, Nowshera, Dera Ghazi Khan and Mandi Bahauddin.
Earlier in the day, Khan tweeted that today marked the beginning of a "freedom struggle" against what he called was a "foreign conspiracy of regime change". In an attempt to galvanise his supporters, he said "it is always the people who protected their own sovereignty and democracy."
PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry had also called on the people to stage protests after Isha prayers while speaking to the media in Islamabad earlier in the day. He said that Khan not leading a massive movement would amount to a "betrayal with the country's politics and Constitution".
The party later issued a schedule of the various protests that were planned for cities all over the country starting 9:30pm.
The protest in the capital started from Zero Point, with PTI supporters gathering and waving flags while chanting slogans in the former prime minister's favour.
Flow of traffic at Srinagar Highway was affected due to the rally with long traffic lines forming.
Meanwhile, Chaudhry thanked PTI supporters for turning out in Rawalpindi for the protest.
Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid also addressed a rally at Rawalpindi's Lal Haveli and lashed out at the PML-N, taking aim in particular at prime ministerial nominee Shehbaz Sharif and alleging that he was trying to avoid indictment in a money laundering reference.
A large number of protesters including women and children turned up at Peshawar Press Club and expressed solidarity with the ousted prime minister.
The crowd chanted slogans against Pakistan Democratic Movement chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and the heads of other political parties along with critique that appeared to be aimed at the military.
Images shared by the PTI also showed demonstrations in other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa such as Bajaur and Abottabad.
PTI leader Hammad Azhar posted a video of a rally from his constituency of NA-126 leaving for Liberty Chowk.
PTI Senator Ejaz Chaudhry also shared a video of a rally from the city's NA-133 constituency to Liberty Market in which slogans against the United States could be heard.
Other videos shared by the PTI showed a throng of supporters and party diehards out in full force at Liberty Chowk.
A protest was held in Karachi on Rashid Minhas Road where a large number of supporters, including women and children, were in attendance.
Leader of the Opposition in Sindh Assembly, Haleem Adil Sheikh was among the local PTI leadership that was present.
The protestors chanted slogans against the 'imported government' as well as PPP Chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
Meanwhile, in Shangla, PTI supporters took out rallies in Malakand and Hazara division, and blocked the Karakoram Highway to register their protest.
They chanted slogans against the United States and Pakistan Democratic Alliance.
Overseas supporters of the PTI also came out to support Khan, with a video shared by Ali Haider Zaidi showing protestors raising slogans of "diesel" — a reference to Khan's fierce political rival Rehman of the JUI-F.
Atika Rehman, Dawn's UK correspondent, shared footage showing PTI supporters gathered in London's Hyde Park to register their protest.
More footage showed that PTI and PML-N supporters also had a face-off at Avenfield House in London where PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif owns apartments and resides.
Imran thanks protestors for 'amazing outpouring of support'
Following the protests on his party's call, Imran thanked his supporters in a tweet done prior to midnight.
"Thank you to all Pakistanis for their amazing outpouring of support and emotions to protest against US-backed regime change abetted by local Mir Jafars to bring into power a coterie of pliable crooks all out on bail," he tweeted.
"[It] shows Pakistanis at home and abroad have emphatically rejected this."