GUJRANWALA: Thousands of protesters led in colorful, flag-waving convoys by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and a Qadri advanced on the Islamabad on Friday in a bid to unseat the government they say was elected by fraud.
Khan and preacher Tahir-ul-Qadri say the May 2013 general election that brought Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to power in a landslide was rigged and are demanding he resign and hold new polls.
They plan a mass rally in Islamabad to press their claims, at the end of a “long march” — in reality a motorised cavalcade — which began from the eastern city of Lahore, around 300 kilometres (190 miles) away, on Thursday.
By late Friday morning Khan’s march had reached the garrison and industrial city of Gujranwala around 70 kilometres north of Lahore.
Supporters of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, which came third in last year’s election, lined up to welcome the convoy in towns along the Grand Trunk Road which links Lahore and Islamabad.
Activists waved green and red PTI flags, danced and sang patriotic songs to greet the march, an AFP photographer said.
Exact numbers on the march were difficult to judge, and more people are likely to join it as it passes through towns along the GT Road, but Khan already hailed it a success.
“I can only see that the monarchy is nearing its end,” Khan said, referring to Sharif.
“The people have decided as I had said that one million people will come to Islamabad and they have come out.”