Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan mounted a strong attack on India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he launched a new campaign against the Pakistan government for its poor governance and failure to tackle corruption.
Addressing tens of thousands of supporters at a rally near the family mansion of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the outskirts of Lahore late on Friday, Khan said Pakistanis would remain united against any threats from India.
Standing atop a 40-foot stage, he said he wanted to send out “two strong messages” – one to Sharif over his alleged corruption and the other to Modi regarding threats to Pakistan.
Calling Modi a “prejudiced extremist”, Khan said: “First off, I want to make it clear I believe in peace, not war. War is never the solution to any problems anywhere. When I met Narendra Modi in India, he agreed with me that we need to work together for peace.”
Khan said Modi had disappointed him, and proved he is “a prejudiced Indian and not a statesman”. He added, “Modi has disappointed both India and Pakistan by his politics and lack of statesmanship.”
Against the backdrop of a sharp rise in tensions between the two sides following surgical strikes across the Line of Control by Indian troops, Khan warned the Indian premier that “not all Pakistanis are as cowardly as Nawaz Sharif”.
Khan attacked both Modi and Sharif in his speech. “I want to tell him that not all Pakistanis love money like Nawaz Sharif does. Modi must remember that not all Pakistanis are cowards like Nawaz Sharif and we know how to respond to such threats.”
Referring to the Kashmir issue, he said: “Human rights are being trampled in Kashmir…And no matter what, we will support Kashmiris morally and politically.”
Khan gave Sharif time till Muharram (which will be observed in mid-October) to “either present himself for accountability or allow state institutions to take action against him”. If Sharif fails to do so, Khan said his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party will bring the federal capital to a standstill with protests.
Khan, who has been demanding a probe since the Panama Papers leaks showed Sharif’s three children owned offshore assets worth millions of dollars, hit out at the premier for his “corruption” and “stolen money”. He claimed he would paralyse and oust the government if Sharif did not face a probe.