Pakistan’s troubleshooter PM faces tough no-confidence vote

ISLAMABAD (AP) – Pakistan’s beleaguered prime minister faced a tough no-confidence vote on Saturday by his political opposition, which said he had the numbers to defeat him.

A united opposition that spans the political spectrum from leftist to radically religious says it has 172 votes in Pakistan’s 342-seat parliament to oust Imran Khan after convening parliament at 10:30 a.m. local time. .

Khan on national television on the eve of the vote called on his supporters to take to the streets to protest on Sunday, a sign he believed he would lose the vote, which was ordered by the Supreme Court. A five-member bench on Thursday stalled Khan’s bid to remain in power, ruling that his move to dissolve Parliament and hold early elections was illegal.

Thursday’s court ruling set the stage for a no-confidence vote, likely to go against Khan after the defection of several of his ruling party members and a small but key coalition ally.

In an impassioned speech on Friday, Khan reiterated his allegations that his opponents colluded with the United States to oust him over his foreign policy choices, often favoring China and Russia and defying US criticism. Used to tell

Khan said Washington protested his February 24 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, hours after tanks rolled into Ukraine, triggering a devastating war in the heart of Europe.

The US State Department has denied any involvement in Pakistan’s internal politics. State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters Friday that “there is no truth to these allegations.”

“Of course, we continue to follow these developments and support the constitutional process of Pakistan, but again these allegations are absolutely not true,” she said.

Yet Khan urged his supporters, especially the youth, who have been the backbone of the former cricket star’s support for the conservative Islamist politician since he came to power in 2018. He said he needed to protest to protect the sovereignty of Pakistan, against an America that wants to dictate to Pakistan.

“You have to come out to protect your future. It is you who have to defend your democracy, your sovereignty and your freedom… It is your duty.” “I will not accept an imposed government.”

Khan has limited options and, if he sees a large turnout in his support, may try to maintain the momentum of street protests as a way of pressuring him to dissolve parliament and hold early elections. can do.

Losing a no-confidence vote for Khan on Saturday is unlikely to come to power in Pakistan.

One of them is the fundamental religious party which runs hundreds of religious schools or madrasas. The Jamiat-e-Ulema-Islam (JUI) or Assembly of Clerics teaches a deeply conservative brand of Islam in its schools and many violent Taliban members from Afghanistan and Pakistan have graduated from JUI schools.

The largest of the opposition parties – the Pakistan People’s Party led by the son of slain Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Muslim League – have been fueled by allegations of widespread corruption.

Pakistan Muslim League leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was convicted of corruption after being named in the so-called Panama Papers – a collection of leaked secret financial documents showing how some of the world’s richest hide their money and Incorporate a global law firm. in Panama. He was disqualified from holding office by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

If the opposition wins the no-confidence vote, it is up to Parliament to choose a new head of government – ​​who could be Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif. If the MLAs fail, elections will be held soon.

,

Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed in Islamabad and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report. Follow Kathy Gannon on Twitter at www:twitter.com/Kathygannon

Leave a Comment