Prime minister Imran Khan has dissolved Pakistan’s parliament and triggered fresh elections, catapulting the country into a constitutional crisis as the former cricket captain fights to stay in power.
With his party losing its slim parliamentary majority as inflation and falling living standards have stoked discontent, Khan’s political opponents had gathered enough support within Pakistan’s National Assembly to end the prime minister’s term with a no-confidence vote on Sunday.
But in a shock move, the Khan-allied speaker dismissed the motion in absentia, claiming that it was unconstitutional. Pakistan’s president then dissolved the National Assembly at Khan’s request, starting the clock for elections to be held in 90 days.
“I ask people to prepare for the next elections,” Khan said in a broadcast address on Sunday. “Thank God, a conspiracy to topple the government has failed.”
Elected on a reform and anti-corruption platform, the populist Muslim politician has struggled to live up to expectations. And although support from Pakistan’s powerful military was crucial to Khan’s victory in 2018, analysts said, the military has insisted it has no involvement in the current political situation — meaning the military is not coming to Khan’s aid.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party’s “biggest support came from the military and intelligence wing, which kept all these moving pieces together”, said Bilal Gilani, executive director at pollster Gallup Pakistan. “Everyone knew as soon as they fell into bad repute with the military and intelligence, everything would unravel.”
No Pakistani prime minister has served a full five-year term, and the 75-year-old nation has been ruled by generals for about half its existence.
But Khan has reinvigorated some support in recent weeks by claiming that foreign powers are trying to oust him, accusing the US in particular — allegations a White House spokesperson categorically denied at a press…
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