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Pakistani politician Khan gains momentum

From Aliza Kassim, CNN
updated 12:32 PM EST, Mon December 26, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former cricket star holds rally in Karachi ahead of 2013 elections
  • Imran Khan promises widespread reforms in Pakistan
  • His party has not performed well in previous elections

(CNN) -- Thousands of supporters rallied Sunday behind cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan, who said he wanted to root out corruption and ensure rich and poor alike prosper in Pakistan.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party rallied in Karachi, where Khan, 59, said he wanted to make economic and tax reforms.

Standing with him amid party banners and Pakistani flags were career politicians who recently switched to Khan's party.

Speaking in cricket terms, Khan said, "One more wicket fell today -- as Pakistan People's Party member Sardar Assef Ahmed has joined the PTI." Ahmed is a former minister of education.

Khan said if elected prime minister next year, he would bring a team that would help transform Pakistan into a welfare state and ensure equality.

"In Tehreek-e-Insaf's rule, a civil system will be introduced which will ensure justice and equality is followed on all fronts -- in which even Imran Khan's car is stopped for speeding," he told the crowd, promising corruption would be ended within 90 days of an election.

Khan also is an opponent of U.S. drone strikes in his country.

Pakistani former cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan addresses supporters in Karachi on Sunday.
Pakistani former cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan addresses supporters in Karachi on Sunday.

Khan, who led the country's cricket team to the 1992 World Cup trophy, founded the Movement for Justice party in 1996 and served in parliament from 2002 to 2007. His party boycotted the 2008 elections.

The opposition politician also spoke of agricultural reforms, promising free seeds and discounted fertilizer for farmers.

Khan said a Chinese company wanted to bring a $19 billion dollar investment to Pakistan, but did not because of concerns over security.

Although he appears to be gaining traction, Khan's party has seen little success in the past.

During previous parliamentary elections, Khan's party failed to win any seats; many within the country have referred to him as a man who changes positions.

He has garnered support from his former wife, Jemima Khan, a British journalist.

Pakistan's next national elections are in 2013.

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