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How Imran Khan Wants to Win Back Power in Pakistan

Imran Khan speaks to supporters during a rally in Lahore, Pakistan, on Aug. 13.

Imran Khan speaks to supporters during a rally in Lahore, Pakistan, on Aug. 13.

Photographer: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

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Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was ousted by a no-confidence vote in early April, is making a major push to return to power. The former international cricket star has won several by-elections and led big protest rallies -- and even escaped an assassination attempt. Khan has also locked horns with the country’s powerful army, which has ruled the country for about half of its 75-year existence. He wants the new government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to call early elections, which Khan thinks he would win comfortably. 

The ex-premier warned before his ouster that he’d be more “dangerous” leading popular protests on the streets. Since then, he has demanded the 13-party coalition government that replaced him set a date for early elections, which aren’t due until October 2023. On Oct. 25 this year, he called on his supporters to march from across the country toward Islamabad, the capital, in a bid to pressure Sharif. Ten days later Khan, who is 70, was shot in the leg during a march. He blamed his successor and a senior general for the attack, which killed a Khan supporter. Both Sharif and the military condemned the shooting. The violence prompted an outpouring of sympathy for Khan, who showed no sign of backing down. (In 2014 Khan led a 126-day sit-in protest in Islamabad in a failed bid to dislodge then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the elder brother of the current premier.) Separately, Khan faces several legal efforts to disqualify him as a lawmaker including corruption and criminal cases that may lead to his conviction and jail sentence.