Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan faces a no-confidence motion in parliament on Sunday that threatens to bring about his downfall, his opponents accusing him of economic mismanagement and clumsiness in foreign policy.
Debate of the motion in parliament, which has 342 members, is due to begin on Sunday morning. The vote, at high risk for Mr. Khan whose support is severely eroded, could take place the same day.
Mr Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Pakistan’s Justice Movement), lost its parliamentary majority last week when an allied party said its seven MPs would vote with the opposition .
More than a dozen PTI MPs have also switched sides, although the party leadership is trying to prevent them from voting through legal appeals.
Mr Khan called on his supporters to take to the streets on Sunday to demonstrate peacefully against what he said was a “conspiracy” organized abroad to oust him from power. “I want you all to protest for an independent and free Pakistan,” he told state media.
He called his opponents “thieves”, “cowards” and “manipulators”, and hinted that he still had a card to play. “I have a plan for tomorrow, don’t worry. I’ll show it to them and defeat them in front of the assembly,” he promised on Saturday.
Earlier this week he accused the United States of interfering in Pakistani affairs. According to local media, he received a report from the Pakistani ambassador in Washington, who recorded a senior US official telling him that relations between the two countries would be better if the prime minister left office. Washington denied.
Mr. Khan accuses the United States of wanting to overthrow him because he refuses to align himself with the American positions with regard to Russia and China.
– Threat of the Taliban –
Accused by his opponents of economic mismanagement – galloping inflation, weak rupee and crushing debt – and of foreign policy clumsiness, Imran Khan, 69 and a former national cricket star, is facing his most serious political crisis since his election in 2018.
The government must also face the increased threat of the Pakistani Taliban of the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan), who announced on Wednesday that they wanted to launch an “offensive” against the security forces during Ramadan.
The two main opposition parties, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have dominated national politics for decades, with periods of power punctuated by military coups. , until Imran Khan forged a coalition, notably promising voters to sweep away decades of corruption.
Some analysts say Imran Khan has also lost crucial support from the military, the key to Pakistan’s political power.
Since independence in 1947, Pakistan has seen four successful military putsches and at least as many unsuccessful coups, and the country has spent more than three decades under military rule.
If Imran Khan is overthrown, a new government will likely be led by Shehbaz Sharif (PML-N), the brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was deposed in 2017 for alleged corruption and imprisoned, then released on bail in October 2019 on charges medical.
But on Saturday, the government asked the court to revoke the bail of Shehbaz Sharif, under investigation for money laundering since 2020. The decision of the court in Lahore (east) is expected on Monday.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (PPP), son of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and former President Asif Zardari, could also play a leading role.