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Opposition Pakistani Politician Draws Huge Karachi Crowd


Thousands of supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or or the Movement for Justice Party take part in a rally in Karachi, Pakistan on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011.

Thousands of supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or or the Movement for Justice Party take part in a rally in Karachi, Pakistan on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2011.

A crowd said to number more than 100,000 turned out in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi to rally in support of the country's cricket legend, now politician, Imran Khan.

Sunday's demonstration mirrored one that occurred in October in Lahore and also drew at least 100,000 Khan supporters.

Khan is leader of the Movement for Justice Party (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf), which has been joined by several prominent Pakistani politicians, including former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The former cricket star is also popular with the country's urban middle class.

Khan's rising popularity comes at a time of political unrest in Pakistan over the release of a secret memo that requested U.S. assistance in preventing the country's powerful military from overthrowing the government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

Pakistan's military leaders have rejected the coup plot accusation, which followed last May's U.S. raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the military academy town of Abbottabad. They have urged Pakistan's highest court to investigate the source of the memo.

The government, meanwhile, is facing increasing pressure to resign, a move that could lead to elections more than a year earlier than scheduled.

Khan was captain of the national team that in 1992 became the only Pakistani team to capture the cricket World Cup.

Karachi is Pakistan's largest city, capital of the populous Sindh province.

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