PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf launched a nationwide mass contact campaign from here on Wednesday against the recent ouster of its Imran Khan-led government, attracting large crowds of people, mostly youth.

The drive began with a rally addressed by former prime minister and PTI chairman Imran Khan.

The participants shouted slogans against the US, Pakistan Democratic Movement leaders and PTI dissidents. They began showing up at the rally venue on the Ring Road after Iftar.

It was the first public appearance of Mr Imran after removal as the prime minister through a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly.

CM says KP belongs to Imran, will remain so

According to officials of the law-enforcement agencies, the rally venue can accommodate a maximum of 10,000 people.

Higher education minister Kamran Bangash told reporters that participants would total around 100,000.

The participants included PTI workers from across the province, especially the districts adjoining Peshawar. They shouted slogans against the PDM and the US.

“Imported government [of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif]is unacceptable,” Anwar Ali, a PTI activist from Peshawar city, told Dawn.

He said the new government comprised a ‘group of thieves’.

The PTI activist said the rally would show the ‘traitors’ that the people wouldn’t accept them.

“We will make no compromise on our sovereignty,” protester Ahmad Khan of the nearby Chamkani village told Dawn.

He said the PTI ‘dissidents’ wouldn’t be able to get 10 votes in the next general elections on their own, so they would contest polls as the nominees of other political parties.

The PTI workers and supporters showed up in groups. They shouted slogans against JUI-F chief Mualana Fazlur Rehman and PTI dissident MNA Noor Alam Khan.

A drone camera of the PTI’s social media team remained the focus of attention due to a lota (ewer) tied with it. Seeing the drone camera over their heads, the participants shouted slogans against the PTI dissidents. Special party songs were also played at the venue to cheer up the crowd.

The participants wore PTI caps and mufflers and displayed banners on vehicles in which they came to the provincial capital from different parts of the province.

Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan visited the rally venue to examine arrangements.

He told reporters that PTI chairman Imran Khan was launching a ‘public outreach’ campaign from Peshawar.

“KP belongs to Mr Imran and will remain so. The people from across the country have taken to the streets in his support and against the PDM,” he said.

The chief minister said the opposition’s no-confidence move against him had miserably failed and those who filed the resolution for it hurled allegations against each other in the house.

He said the PTI lawmakers were the ‘true soldiers’ of Mr Imran and couldn’t be bought.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2022

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