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Imran Khan cancels a protest march to avoid creating “chaos”


Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Saturday, making his first public appearance since he was wounded in a gun attack earlier this month, that he would cancel his protest march to Islamabad because he feared it could cause chaos in the country.

Khan has staged protests across the country to pressure the government into holding snap elections since he was ousted from power in April. The protests were to culminate in a march to Islamabad, which threatened to exacerbate political chaos in Pakistan.

In a speech delivered during a gathering of thousands of supporters in the city of Rawalpindi, near the capital, Khan said, “I decided not to go to Islamabad because I know there will be chaos and losses will be the share of the state.”

Security has been tightened for Khan’s appearance. A police official told local TV channel Geo TV that 10,000 security personnel were deployed for the event, with snipers stationed at several points to secure it.

Khan was shot in the leg earlier this month when his anti-government protest march to Islamabad was attacked in the east of the country, in what aides said was an apparent attempt on his life by rivals.

Khan said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a senior military official planned his assassination, but the government and army denied any involvement. Sharif called for a transparent investigation. One person was arrested in connection with the incident and said he acted on his own initiative.

On Saturday, Khan reached the stage on a walking tire and addressed the crowd from behind bulletproof glass. He said that several security sources told him that his life was still under threat.

Khan said he was consulting his party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, about the possibility of resigning from all provincial assemblies in a fresh move to push for early elections.

The party has already resigned from the Federal Parliament, but remains in power in two regions and two administrative units.