Imran Khan survived a move to oust him as Pakistan’s prime minister, and got a reprieve when the deputy speaker of parliament blocked a motion of no confidence as unconstitutional.
- Qasim Suri blocked the vote of no confidence that Prime Minister Imran Khan could expel
- Mr Khan told Pakistan to prepare for new elections
- Supporters of Mr Khan protested in the streets before the vote
Mr Khan, whose fate was not immediately clear, advised the country’s president to dissolve parliament, leading to new political instability in the nuclear-armed nation of 220 million people.
The opposition immediately promised to challenge the bloc on the ballot, made by a member of the prime minister’s political party, while Mr Khan advised the country’s president to dissolve parliament and called on the nation has to prepare for new elections.
“I have sent advice to the president to dissolve congregations,” Mr Khan, an international cricket champion who became a politician, said in a televised speech, referring to national and state legislators.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, leader of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party, promised a sit-in in parliament and told reporters: “We are also moving to the Supreme Court today.”
The opposition blames Mr Khan for failing to revive the economy and fight corruption.
Mr Khan said, without citing evidence, that the move to oust him had been orchestrated by the United States, a claim that Washington denies.
“In terms of Article 224 of the constitution, the prime minister will continue his responsibilities, the cabinet has been dissolved,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in a tweet.
The opposition and analysts say Mr Khan, who came to power in 2018 with the support of the powerful army, fell out with it, a charge he and the army deny.
No prime minister has completed a full five-year term since Britain’s independence in 1947, and generals have ruled the country on several occasions, constantly at odds with India’s fellow nuclear-weapon neighbor.
Pakistan’s potential new instability comes as it faces high inflation, dwindling foreign reserves and growing deficits.
The country is in the midst of a tough International Monetary Fund rescue program.
In addition to the economic crisis, Islamabad faces challenges, including an attempt to balance global pressure to encourage the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan to meet human rights obligations while trying to curb instability there.
Mr Khan lost his majority in parliament after allies left his coalition government and he suffered a spate of deviations within his Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf party.
If Sunday’s vote had gone through and the opposition had remained united, Mr Khan would have been out of office.
With coalition partners and some of his own lawmakers crossing over earlier this week, it looked like Mr. Khan would fall among the 172 votes needed to survive the no-confidence vote.
A well-known newspaper recently said that Mr. Khan is “as good as gone” but he urged his supporters to take to the streets on Sunday ahead of the planned vote.
In the streets of the capital Islamabad, there was a heavy police and paramilitary presence, with cargo containers used to block roads, according to a Reuters witness.
Police were seen holding three supporters of Khan’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party outside parliament, but the streets were otherwise calm.