Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan backed down from a threat to paralyse the capital on Wednesday, a move likely to ease tension that has spilled over into violence in the run-up to the planned protests.
Khan’s vow to ‘shut down’ Islamabad to press a demand for prime minister Nawaz Sharif to resign or face a corruption inquiry had sparked a citywide ban on gatherings and the arrests of hundreds of opposition activists accused of defying the ban.
Instead of the protest, Khan on Tuesday said he would hold a ‘celebratory’ rally, following a decision by the Supreme Court to pursue a case linked to Sharif.
‘We will hold a massive gathering in Islamabad tomorrow at the parade ground to celebrate this victory,’ Khan told media outside his plush home on the edge of the capital.
In a bid to resolve the crisis, the Supreme Court said it would form a judicial commission to probe allegations stemming from the ‘Panama Papers’ leaks about the Sharif family’s offshore wealth.
Khan had previously rejected the city High Court’s order to hold his protests on Islamabad’s parade ground, vowing to paralyse the capital with a turnout of a million protesters.
The tension unleashed fears Pakistan’s economic recovery could be jeopardised if there were a prolonged crisis that could even draw in the powerful military, which has a history of meddling in politics and overthrowing civilian governments.
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