Karachi: Cricketer turned politician, Imran Khan is set to hold his maiden rally here on December 25 — the date when the nation commemorates the birthday of its founding father.
It will be a big challenge for Khan as Karachi has been a stronghold of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), for at least two decades from where it wins the majority of seats in the national and provincial assembly.
On Wednesday Sindh High Court disposed of a petition against holding the rally. The petitioner said holding the rally on the birthday of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father, could be a security threat for the people who want to visit the mausoleum to pay tribute.
It was interpreted as a denial to the rally but the Pakistan Tehreeke Insaf (PTI), Khan's party said, the verdict did not bar them from holding the rally.
"We are sticking with our plan [of holding the rally]," said Imran Esmail, deputy secretary-general of the PTI. "The court denied the holding of rallies within ten feet of the mausoleum whereas we are holding the rally 300 feet away."
Esmail, who was taking care of all the rally preparations, said it was the biggest in the city and no political party had ever dared hold a rally on this ground.
The PTI workers were installing banners and posters of Khan. The stage was also being hoisted across the mausoleum, that is a huge ground which can house hundred of thousands people.
The PTI is turning into a significant political force in the country. Although Khan has failed to achieve any success in the electoral process in the past, a large number of veteran politicians have lately joined the PTI.
Critics said those joining Khan were spent forces in their former parties and they were just aspiring to get their previous political status by joining the PTI.
"The politicians who are joining Imran are those who did not have their say in their parties any more," said Idrees Bakhtiar, editor of the Herald, the country's prestigious political magazine.
However, Bakhtiar agreed upon the growing popularity of the Khan's party.
"It is gaining popularity because people are disappointed from the two big national parties," Bakhtiar said referring to the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League.
Khan is holding a series of political rallies in other cities, especially in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and he attaches much expectation from the upcoming rally as Karachi is the pulse of national politics, besides being the financial capital.
"We just want to invite the youth of Karachi to join us to become a part of change," Khan said in a televised interview.