Pakistani Politician Rally Draws Thousands

Thousands of supporters rallied Sunday behind cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan, who said he wanted to root out corruption and ensure rich and poor alike prosper in Pakistan. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party rallied in Karachi, where Khan, 59, said he wanted to make economic and tax reforms.

Standing with him amid party banners and Pakistani flags were career politicians who recently switched to Khan’s party.  Speaking in cricket terms, Khan said, “One more wicket fell today — as Pakistan People’s Party member Sardar Assef Ahmed has joined the PTI.” Ahmed is a former minister of education. Khan said if elected prime minister next year, he would bring a team that would help transform Pakistan into a welfare state and ensure equality.

Khan also is an opponent of U.S. drone strikes in his country. The opposition politician also spoke of agricultural reforms, promising free seeds and discounted fertilizer for farmers. Khan said a Chinese company wanted to bring a $19 billion dollar investment to Pakistan, but did not because of concerns over security.

Although he appears to be gaining traction, Khan’s party has seen little success in the past. During previous parliamentary elections, Khan’s party failed to win any seats; many within the country have referred to him as a man who changes positions.

Pakistan’s next national elections are in 2013.