Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan escaped a no-confidence motion on Sunday, which the deputy speaker of the country’s National Assembly refused to put to a vote, and announced in the process that he was asking for the dissolution of parliament and early elections.
This twist comes when Mr. Khan was in very bad shape. He had lost a few days ago the parliamentary majority necessary to escape the fall, demanded by his opponents who accuse him of economic mismanagement and clumsiness in foreign policy.
But at the opening of the session, the vice-president of the National Assembly, Qasim Suri, a faithful of Mr. Khan, declared from the outset that he refused to examine the motion of no confidence, which he considered “unconstitutional” and inspired by “foreign powers”, provoking the indignation of parliamentarians.
In a speech on state television a few minutes later, Mr Khan announced that he was asking the President of Pakistan, Afir Alvi, to dissolve the National Assembly. “We will appeal to the public, hold elections and let the nation decide,” he said.
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 also switched sides, although the party leadership tried to prevent them from voting through legal appeals.
Police blocked the streets leading to the National Assembly with containers on Sunday, while Mr Khan called on his supporters the day before to peacefully demonstrate against what he described as a “conspiracy” organized abroad to oust him from power.
He had 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.
– Accusations of interference –
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 him to leave because he refuses to align himself with the American positions with regard to Russia and China.
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 from the Pakistani Taliban of the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan), who have announced that they want 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 coup attempts, and the country has spent more than three decades under military rule.
No Pakistani Prime Minister has ever completed his term.