Imran Khan escaped an attempt to oust him as Pakistan’s prime minister on Sunday after a no-confidence vote in parliament was blocked by the deputy speaker.
Faced with the difficult challenge of his political career, Khan called on the country’s people to dissolve parliament and prepare for new elections.
Khan was defeated in a no-confidence motion, which was supported by a coalition of politicians – including more than a dozen defectors from Khan’s own political party. But as a dramatic relief to the confused leader, the vote was blocked by the deputy speaker as “unconstitutional”.
For months, Khan has been battling foreign exchange reserves and double-digit inflation, pushing up the prices of basic necessities such as food and fuel.
Following the vote, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Khan would now continue his responsibilities under Article 224 of the country’s constitution. But without a true paradigm of Sunday events, it is not yet clear what will happen next.
One of the leaders of the opposition, Bhutto Zardari, called Khan’s action “unconstitutional” and said the matter would be taken up by the Supreme Court.
Pakistan’s main opposition parties have been campaigning for Khan’s ouster since he came to power in 2018 after a dramatic election amid allegations of vote rigging and fraud.
Opposition groups called for a no-confidence motion in parliament, accusing him of mismanaging the country’s economy and foreign policy.
They demanded that Khan resign before the vote. Khan retaliated by calling them “traitors” and reiterated his desire to fight against the vote.
Khan’s failure to work with his allies, as well as the country’s powerful army, led to a breakdown in relations within his coalition government.
Khan had previously promised lawmakers who returned to the party that they would be forgiven “as a father forgives his children.” He warned that those who voted against him would face social stigma and that no one would marry off their children.
Khan had called on his supporters in 220 million countries to rally in the streets of the capital Islamabad on Sunday to protest the proposed referendum. Security has been beefed up across the city as police patrol the streets. The city’s red zone, where government and military buildings are located, is sealed with shipping containers.
Last week, tens of thousands of people gathered at the city’s iconic Parade Ground and chanted slogans in support of Khan, a former international cricket star and politician.
Since the formation of the country in 1947, no Pakistani leader has fully completed five years as Prime Minister. Concerns have now been raised that Khan’s call for early elections could jeopardize further political instability in the South Asian country.
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