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Thousands rally in support of former cricketer Imran Khan

Khan’s opposition PTI has emerged as one of the leading parties in Pakistan in recent years.

Tens of thousands of supporters of opposition politician and former cricketer Imran Khan, who hopes to become Pakistan’s prime minister, gathered in Lahore as his political party launched its campaign for July elections.

Chanting slogans for change and waving flags, supporters of Khan and his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party filled a park in the power base of his rival and former Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified last July by the Supreme Court for concealing his assets abroad.

Khan’s party managed the impressive show as its supporters travelled to the city from across the country.

Khan’s opposition PTI has emerged as one of the leading parties in recent years, promising change.

A supporter of Imran Khan’s party flashes a victory sign (K.M. Chaudary/AP

Saima Siddiq, who attended the rally with her husband and children, said the existing system was “rotten”. She said she hoped Khan would make the country prosperous.

The rally in Iqbal Park took place around a grand minaret built at the location where a resolution was adopted in 1940 demanding independence from British rule.

“I pledge here to work till my last breath and last drop of my blood to make this nation and this country great and prosperous,” he told the massive, cheering crowd.

Supporters rallied in their thousands (K.M. Chaudary/AP)

Presenting an 11-point agenda, Khan sought support in bringing about “peaceful political change” and to defeat “corrupt” politicians who he said have done nothing for the betterment of the common man.

Other political parties also held rallies Sunday.

Former president Asif Zardari’s Pakistan People Party held a rally in the country’s commercial hub, Karachi. Zardari’s young son and party leader Bilawal Zardari criticised both Khan and Sharif.

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