Former Pakistan PM Khan to address first rally since being shot

Authorities have thrown a ring of steel around Islamabad to prevent Khan’s supporters from marching on government buildings, with thousands of security personnel deployed and roads blocked by shipping containers.

Khan-led protests in May spiralled into 24 hours of chaos, with the capital blockaded and running clashes across Pakistan between police and protesters.

“RED ALERT”

Police said any attempt by PTI supporters to enter Islamabad this time would be firmly dealt with.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah – who Khan says was involved in the assassination plot – issued a “red alert” Friday warning of security threats to the rally.

“PTI still has the time (to cancel),” he said, listing Pakistan’s Taliban and Al Qaeda among the extremist groups that could harm Khan.

The government says the assassination attempt was the work of a lone wolf now in custody, with police leaking a “confession” video by the junk-shop owner saying he acted because Khan was against Islam.

But Khan, a former international cricket star with a playboy reputation before he married, said he has long warned that the government would blame a religious fanatic for any attempt to kill him.

Saturday’s rally takes place two days after the government named a former spymaster as the next military chief.

General Syed Asim Munir’s appointment ended months of speculation over a position long considered the real power in the nuclear-armed Islamic nation of 220 million people.

Munir served as chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency under Khan, but his stint ended after just eight months following a reported falling out.

Pakistan’s military, the world’s sixth-largest, is hugely influential in the country and has staged at least three coups since independence in 1947, ruling for more than three decades.

Since being ousted, Khan has staged a series of mass rallies across the country, drawing huge crowds.

Saturday’s gathering is expected to be one of the biggest yet.

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