An estimated 30,000 people, mostly Pakistani-Americans, gathered at the filled-to-the-rafters Capital One Arena in Washington DC, to meet Pakistani PM Imran Khan. The stadium has a seating capacity of 20,000, though thousands more are seated in main playing arena.
Up to 30,000 people are gathered at a community meeting of overseas Pakistanis in Washington DC on Sunday (early Monday in the Pakistan).
The main guest of honour: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan. The scene is a proud moment for Pakistanis around the world.
The PM, a former international cricketer, received a rockstar’s welcome as he appeared before the massive crowd, along with some members of his Cabinet.
Millions more viewed the event via livestreaming from home.
Imran Khan and his entourage reportedly flew to America on a commercial, instead of chartered, flight to save on cost. The premier delivered a speech about the benefits of meritocracy, a relentless fight to curb corruption and laid out his vision for “Naya (New) Pakistan”, words that energized the crowd of US-based expat Pakistanis.
During his speech, the PM said: “Pakistan was made on the basis of a massive dream. The dreams of two great leaders. Quaid e Azam and Allama Iqbal. I want you to tell your children In the US what this dream was.”
Never seen before moment : this is the impact of an honest leadership!
— PTI (@PTIofficial) July 21, 2019
He also told the crowd: “23 years ago, I came into politics. I said one thing & on that same note I‘ll end address. I said that I have never bowed my head in front of everyone to date except for Allah. I‘ll, InshAllah, never let my nation bow their head in front of anyone.”
The Capital One Arena has 20,000 official seating capacity. Tweeps point out that there were thousands more seated in the playing field.
“You’re looking at the largest gathering of Pakistani Americans in history,” according to a Pakistani-American at the scene.
At the moment, the hashtag #PMIKJalsaInUSA is trending on Twitter.
He will hold talks with Donald Trump and reboot bilateral ties that were hit after the president publicly criticised Islamabad, cancelled military aid and asked it to do more to fight terrorism.
Imran, 66, is scheduled to meet Trump at the White House on Monday during which the American leadership is likely to press him to take “decisive and irreversible” actions against terrorist and militant groups operating from Pakistani soil and facilitate peace talks with the Taliban.
During his three-day visit, Imran, in addition to his meeting with Trump, is also scheduled to meet IMF acting chief David Lipton and World Bank President David Malpass. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will call on him on Tuesday.
The cricketer-turned-politician arrived on Saturday afternoon and is staying at the official residence of the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed Khan.
He was welcomed at the airport by his foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. A large number of Pakistani Americans also welcomed him.
Nawaz Sharif was the last Pakistani prime minister to visit the US on an official trip in October 2015.