Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Pakistan PM Imran Khan Avoids Removal, Seeks Election

Sun 03 Apr 2022 | 02:19 PM
Ahmad El-Assasy

After surviving a bid to depose him, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for new elections, giving him a respite in parliament but reigniting political and constitutional turmoil in the nuclear-armed country of 220 million people.

Khan's destiny was unclear after a no-confidence resolution was vetoed as unconstitutional by the deputy speaker of parliament, a member of his own political party.

Khan urged the nation to prepare for new elections after President Arif Alvi granted the proposal to dissolve parliament.

The opposition, on the other hand, has pledged to fight the block's vote to dismiss Khan, which many had predicted he would lose.

The opposition Pakistan People's Party's Bilawal Bhutto Zardari promised a sit-in in parliament and told reporters, "We are also moving to the Supreme Court today."

Shehbaz Sharif, the favourite to succeed Khan if he is dismissed from office, described the parliamentary block as "nothing short of grave treason."

"For obvious & brazen breach of the Constitution, there will be consequences," Sharif said on Twitter, adding that he hoped the Supreme Court will play a role.

Khan is being blamed by the opposition for failing to revitalise the economy and combat corruption.

The prime minister has claimed, without providing evidence, that the move to remove him was coordinated by the US, a claim denied by Washington.

Khan, a worldwide cricket legend turned politician who rose to power in 2018 with the support of the country's formidable military, is accused by the opposition and analysts of having a falling out with it, an allegation he and the military reject.

Since Pakistan's independence from Britain in 1947, no prime minister has served a complete five-year term, and the country has been controlled by generals on multiple occasions. Pakistan is perpetually at odds with its nuclear-armed neighbour India.

Farrukh Habib, the State Minister for Information, stated new elections would be held in 90 days, but that decision would be made by the president and the election commission.

Khan's cabinet has been disbanded, but he will continue to serve as Prime Minister, according to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry.

A prominent prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Raja Khalid, resigned, citing the government's parliamentary motion as unlawful.

He told local media, "What has happened can only be expected under the authority of a dictator."

Pakistan is facing high inflation, declining foreign reserves, and growing deficits, which could lead to new instability.

The country is undergoing a difficult rescue programme from the International Monetary Fund.

Aside from the economic crisis, Islamabad has a number of issues, including balancing international pressure on the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan to satisfy human rights pledges while also attempting to contain the country's turmoil.

Khan's majority in parliament was slashed after partners departed his coalition government and defections from his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

Khan, who recently lost his legislative majority, would have been forced to resign if Sunday's vote had gone through and the opposition had remained unified.

Khan had looked likely to fall short of the 172 votes needed to survive the no-confidence vote earlier this week, with coalition partners and several of his own members defecting.

Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, on the other hand, declared the no-confidence resolution unconstitutional.

The opposition benches remained mostly sat, as if taken aback by the sudden move.