At 11am on May 25th, Imran Khan boards a helicopter in Peshawar, a city near the border with Afghanistan. Less than two months earlier, the Pakistani parliament had dismissed Khan as prime minister in a vote of no confidence. In the aftermath, he had rallied supporters across the country. (Recently the police began investigating him for terrorism offences for saying, at one of these demonstrations, that he would “not spare” a police chief and judges who had ordered the arrest and alleged torture of his chief of staff.)
Now his helicopter glides over thousands of his adherents in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the road to Islamabad, the capital, where he plans to hold yet another rally. A campaign bus is waiting for Khan halfway to the city: a converted shipping container mounted on a truck bed, with a speaker’s platform on top and a seating area in a kind of capsule below. The container has been painted green, red and white, the colours of his political party, Pakistan Tehreek e-Insaf (Movement for Justice), known as the PTI. This is the mobile-command centre of Khan’s “long march”, a motorised cavalcade he has organised in his populist bid to force the government to hold fresh parliamentary elections, which he believes he will win…
Photograph: Then Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Imran Khan, meeting Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, 24 February 2022. © www.kremlin.ru
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