ISLAMABAD ( Associated Press) – Pakistan’s beleaguered Prime Minister Imran Khan was telling the country on Thursday that he would not resign even if he faces a no-confidence vote in parliament and the country’s opposition says they have no option but to oust him. number for .
Besieged by the opposition and abandoned by coalition partners, Khan is fighting for his political survival after the opposition called for a vote, which is expected to take place on Sunday.
The opposition accused him of economic mismanagement and claimed that he was unfit for the role of prime minister. Parliament session debating his role was adjourned within minutes of opening on Thursday and without any explanation.
MPs were reportedly supposed to reconvene on Sunday for a debate and vote on Khan – which may now be a formality as a series of defections appears to have forced Khan’s political opponents to oust him in the 342-seat House. Had 172 votes to do.
Earlier on Thursday, Bilawal Bhutto, leader of a major opposition party, had urged Khan to resign. “You have lost… you have only one option: resign,” Bhutto said.
But in a video address to the nation late on Thursday, Khan gave a defiant tone.
“I will not resign,” said the former cricket star turned politician, invoking a cricket analogy: “I will fight till the last ball.”
In his speech, Khan attacked the United States, claiming that Washington had conspired against him with the Pakistani opposition and that the US wanted “I personally went … and everything would be forgiven.” “
He claimed that Washington resisted his continued criticism of the US war on terrorism – “and not a single Pakistani was involved in the 9/11 attacks” – as well as from allowing drone strikes in Pakistan and Pakistan to use refused to refuse. US missions “over-the-horizon” against terror targets in what is now Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
As far as Washington’s dismay at Khan’s visit to Russia on February 24, hours after Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, is concerned, Khan underlined US efforts to control Pakistan’s foreign policy.
When Khan came to power in 2018, he promised to rid Pakistan of corruption, even as he parted ways with some of the country’s tainted old guards. He called them ‘electorates’ – necessary to win elections because their wealth and vast land holdings guaranteed votes in large areas of the country.
In politics, Khan has adopted a more conservative brand of Islam. He has also held association with radical clerics including Maulana Tariq Jameel, who once said that women in short skirts had caused the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nevertheless, Khan is credited with building the country’s foreign reserves, which now exceed $18 billion. Despite the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, remittances from Pakistanis living abroad stood at $29 billion in 2021.
Khan’s reputation for fighting corruption has encouraged sending Pakistanis home and he has also cracked down on the informal money transfer system, known as hawala. However, the opposition blames them for high inflation and weak Pakistani rupee.
He has received international acclaim for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. His implementation of the so-called “smart” lockdown targeted heavily infected sectors – rather than a nationwide shutdown – kept some of the country’s key industries such as construction afloat.
Khan’s often stated opposition to Washington’s “war in terror” and the US-led invasion of Afghanistan brought him popularity at home.
He sought to reach out to Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers, forge closer ties with China and Russia, and shied away from a UN Security Council vote condemning Russia for invading Ukraine. Still, Khan condemned the war and called on Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky this week in support. The two reportedly talked for 40 minutes.
Madiha Afzal, a fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, attributed Khan’s political woes to his confrontational style and the cooling of ties between him and the powerful military, widely reported to have aided Khan’s election victory in 2018.
Pakistan’s military has been the de facto ruler of the country for more than half of its 75-year history – even when governments are democratically elected, despite claims of neutrality, the military maintains considerable control behind the scenes Is.
In the Brookings Institution podcast, Afzal said that it is rare for a Pakistani political leader to end his term. “This is part of a much larger, longer cycle that reflects Pakistan’s inherent political instability,” she said.
“Essentially, opposition parties do not wait for elections to be held, the previous party is voted out, or the prime ministers are ousted from power,” Afzal said. “While the military says it is neutral in this situation, in this political crisis, many read it as saying that the army has basically withdrawn its support to Khan.”
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Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.
Kathy Gannon, Associated Press