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Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again applauded India for its independent foreign policy and its purchase of Russian oil in line with its national interests despite Western pressure amid the Ukraine war.

Khan and thousands of supporters have started a long-promised march on Friday to the nation's capital, Islamabad, to challenge the government of his successor and demand early elections.

He has maintained that his ouster in a parliament no-confidence vote in April was unlawful, and a conspiracy by his political opponents orchestrated by the United States — a charge denied by both Washington and Pakistan's new premier, Shahbaz Sharif.

During his first speech, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said that India is able to import oil from Russia at its will however Pakistanis are a slave who failed to make decisions for the welfare of their country's people.

"The decisions of this nation must be made inside the nation. If Russia is giving cheap oil and if I have the choice to save my countrymen, no one should ask us. No one should be able to tell us. India can take oil from Russia but slave Pakistanis are not allowed. I want to see a free country and justice must prevail and people should be provided safety and security," Imran Khan said.

In the political struggle of 26 years, Imran Khan said this is the most crucial journey that he is starting. "My aim is only one. We were being freed from the Britishers and it is time we start the Haqiqi Azadi. This is my message to all Pakistanis. This march is not for politics and not for elections or for religion. There is only one motive for the rally that I want to make Pakistan free."

He stressed that common Pakistanis are suffering. He warned that people will sacrifice everything for saving the country. "Listen to this carefully. People are watching the drama. Inflation has engulfed the country. Imported thieves have done the blunder of inflation. But they (ruling party members) are acquitted of 11 crore scam. Their handlers, if they believe, they will be accepted.. listen carefully, this country will be able to sacrifice anything."

However, this is, not the first time when he praised India. Earlier on 14 August, Khan had lauded India for its independent foreign policy, as the leader slammed Western countries for being critical of India for buying Russian oil. Prior to this, in May, Khan had said praised India for pursuing its "independent" foreign policy and said the US cannot dare to dictate to India because it is a free country.

Earlier in August, he had said, “If India which got independence at the same time as Pakistan and if New Delhi can take a firm stand and make their foreign policy as per the need of its people then who are they (Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif government) who are towing the line."

In May, he had said, “India is buying oil and weapons from Russia but the US does not say anything to it because it (India) is an independent country. India is also doing trade with Iran but the US does not object to it."

Khan had also played out External Affairs Minister Jaishankar's video clip at a rally to elucidate his point further.

"India’s foreign minister was told by them (referring to the US) not to buy oil from Russia. He (Jaishankar) categorically told them ‘Who are you to tell us what to do'. The Indian foreign minister told them if Europe is buying gas from Russia...who are you to tell us (India) not to buy oil from Russia," Khan said, while asserting that India is a sovereign country and has the courage to protect the interest of its people.

Jaishankar had made the following remarks at the GLOBSEC 2022 Bratislava Forum in Slovakia in June on the topic 'Taking Friendship to the Next Level: Allies in the Indo-Pacific Region'.

Khan also regretted that he wanted to buy cheap oil from Russia to benefit the poor, but his government was sent packing through a conspiracy hatched by the US and its three stooges -- Sharif, Asif Zaradri and Fazlur Rehman.

Khan said that he is not "anti-American" and wants a "friendly relationship" with the US, instead of becoming their "slave."

Khan said he had enjoyed "good ties" with former US president Donald Trump as he was "respectable" during his visit to the US.

"Ask anyone from the Pakistan-American community they will testify that no one before me had gotten the protocol that Trump gave to me," he claimed.

"Despite being part of the Quad, India sustained pressure from the US and bought discounted Russian oil to provide relief to the masses. This is what our govt was working to achieve with the help of an independent foreign policy," Imran Khan tweeted on May while retweeting an information about reduction of the petrol and diesel prices in India.

Imran Khan said "Mir Jafars and Mir Sadiqs" bowed to the external pressure forcing a regime change, and "are now running around like a headless chicken with the economy in a tailspin."

(With inputs from agencies)

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