Lahore: A large number of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) supporters held a protest rally at Lahore's Liberty Chowk against the ouster of former prime minister and party chairman Imran Khan through a no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition.
The charged PTI supporters, including women and children, showed their solidarity with Khan during the rally that started at 9 pm on Sunday and lasted till 3 am on Monday.
Big gatherings were also reported from other parts of the Punjab province, including Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala, Vehari, Jehlum and Gujrat districts. Islamabad and Karachi also witnessed major gatherings of PTI supporters.
Protests broke out in different cities after 9 pm on Sunday and continued for several hours on the call of Khan.
Earlier on Sunday, ousted prime minister Khan tweeted that "today marked the beginning of a freedom struggle" against what he said was a "foreign conspiracy of regime change" in Pakistan.
In an attempt to galvanise his supporters, he said "it is always the people who protected their own sovereignty and democracy."
In another tweet, Khan posted an aerial view of the Lahore rally and said he never saw such a big crowd. "Never have such crowds come out so spontaneously and in such numbers in our history, rejecting the imported govt led by crooks," Khan said.
PTI's local leadership was leading the protest. The charged workers and supporters of the party were chanting slogans against the US, which Khan claims to be behind the ouster of his government.
They were also shouting slogans against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif, who is expected to be elected as the new prime minister on Monday; Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chair Asif Ali Zaradri and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman for allegedly plotting against Khan's government at the behest of the US.
Most placards being carried by the protesters read "Imported government not acceptable." This (Imported government not acceptable) was also a top trend in Pakistan with over 2.7 million tweets till early hours of Monday.
Former federal minister and PTI senior leader Shireen Mazari said in a tweet: "Such amazing scenes from across Pak and from abroad --- Pakistanis have rejected US instigated regime change. Two of my favourite individual placards! #ImportedGovernmentRejected #RevolutionBlackedOut."
She also complained of Pakistani media for not giving proper coverage to massive protests across the country, especially in Lahore and Karachi.
The PTI has thanked the masses to come out on roads in the support of Imran Khan to reject foreign intervention. "Shukriya (thanks) Pakistan! We're a nation that stands against any foreign intervention, we're a nation which stands with @ImranKhanPTI," the PTI said in statement posted on its Twitter account.
Despite the PTI government's hectic efforts to avoid voting on the no-confidence motion against Khan, the joint Opposition succeeded in its month-long efforts to oust Khan from the prime minister's office as 174 members of the 342-member National Assembly voted against him after a day of high drama.
Khan, 69, became the first premier in the country's history to be sent home after losing the trust of the House.
PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry had also called on the people to stage protests after Isha prayers while speaking to the media in Islamabad earlier in the day.
He said that Khan not leading a massive movement would amount to a "betrayal with the country's politics and Constitution". PTI