Pakistan cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan believes that his Tehrik-e-Insaaf party will be undefeatable during the general elections in May this year, given the mammoth public response to his rallies across the country.
General elections in Pakistan are scheduled for May 11.
"Let me tell my opponents that we have prepared a very dangerous party that they will never be able to compete with. You saw what happened on March 23. It was not rain, but a downpour. I could hardly speak in the downpour, but all the people, all the public, just stood there. This is a mania. And this mania, this passion, cannot be countered by money or self interest or 'electable' (candidates)," Khan told a news conference in Islamabad.
Asked about recent defections from his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, Khan said he was grateful to former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif for taking all the opportunists into the folds of his Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), thereby purging PTI of "second grade" people and leaving it only with ideological workers.
"A very fantastic match is about to be played. All the opportunists and self-serving 'electables' are moving in one direction. I am grateful to Mian Nawaz Sharif for taking them in and sifting the chaff from the grain. Now my party only has committed, enthusiastic workers," he said.
The May 11 election is the first transition between democratically-elected governments in a country that has experienced three military coups, and Khan-who has been in the political wilderness for more than 16 years - is shaping up to be the biggest wild card, much to the consternation of the Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) that has just completed its five year term and the PML-N, two major parties which have dominated politics in Pakistan for decades.
Criticising the previous government for "destroying all the country's systems", Khan said the PTI manifesto, which has been carefully drafted to build a new Pakistan, will be unveiled in the next few days.
On March 24, the Election Commission of Pakistan selected former high court chief justice, Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, to serve as Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister in the run up to a historic national election in May this year.
Khan said his party wanted just one favour from Khoso.
"The Election Commission has selected him (caretaker PM Khoso), so we will accept him. But I would like to request Mr. Khoso that the future of our country is being decided; the future of his children is being decided. We want only one thing: Hold free and fair elections period. That is all we want," Khan said.
Although Khan, idolized by cricket lovers for decades, has struck a chord with the masses by his criticism of the unpopular PPP government and his strong opposition to US drone attacks in Pakistan, analysts believe that his huge rallies may not translate into enough organizational strength to confront the established parties.
Opinion polls give Sharif's PML-N party a clear lead over Khan and the Pakistan People's party (PPP).
In a sign of the party's growing strength, Sharif has recently attracted a large number of defectors from other parties, including many political power brokers. (ANI)