Standing atop a truck, thronged by a huge crowd, a visibly enraged Imran Khan repeated the claim that has become a rallying cry for his millions of supporters.
Pakistan, the ousted former Prime Minister said, was being ruled by “traitors” installed by “a foreign conspiracy” plotted in the United States.
Khan was speaking early Thursday in the capital, Islamabad, at what he said would be “the biggest ever protest” in the country’s history, after demonstrators clashed with security personnel and he was forced to curtail the event.
But his announcement came with a warning: “I’m giving this imported government six days to declare new elections. Otherwise, I will re-enter Islamabad with 2 million people.”
Rapturous cries of support and chants of outrage against the US and the current Pakistani administration, reverberated through the crowd.
Khan’s claims of a US-led conspiracy against him have become a staple at the many rallies he has held across Pakistan in a bid to return to power following his ouster on April 10 in a parliamentary no-confidence vote.
The claims have struck a chord with a young population in a country where anti-American sentiment is common and anti-establishment feelings are being fueled by a rising cost of living crisis.
But Khan’s critics say there’s a problem with his claims: there is no evidence of a conspiracy.
Both the US and Pakistan’s military have vigorously denied Khan’s allegations, and the former Prime Minister has refused to offer anything substantive to back them up.