Lahore: Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan on Saturday formally kicked off his campaign for next May 2013 general election by offering prayers at the shrine of Sufi saint Ali Hajvari for the success of his party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf. Khan led a huge rally from the Mall, one of Lahore's main thoroughfares, to the Data Darbar shrine.
A charged crowd, consisting mostly of youths, shouted slogans like "The lion hunter has come". The lion is the election symbol of the PML-N led by former premier Nawaz Sharif, which is seen as the main rival of Khan's party in Punjab, the country's most populous and politically crucial province. A special truck was prepared for Khan to lead the rally.
Khan also opened an election office on the Mall, which is part of a parliamentary constituency from where he is contesting the May 11, 2013 general election. Other candidates of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf also joined the rally and urged Khan to address more meetings in Punjab. PML-N chief Sharif, who is also contesting from a parliamentary seat in Lahore, kicked off his party s election campaign in Kasur, 40 km from Lahore.
Addressing a large gathering, Sharif held President Asif Ali Zardari, the head of the Pakistan People's Party that led the last government, responsible for all the problems that Pakistan is facing.