Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan
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Pakistan is heading for new elections after a day of dramatic developments that plunged the country into deeper political turmoil and culminated in the dissolution of Parliament.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday dodged a vote of no confidence when the deputy speaker, a member of Khan’s ruling party, refused to keep it. Qasim Khan Suri claimed there was “foreign interference” in an attempt to depose Khan.
Opposition lawmakers condemned the move and pledged to fight the decision.
Shehbaz Sharif, believed to be one of the frontrunners to replace Khan if he is sacked, described the parliamentary bloc as “nothing highly treasonous.”
“There will be consequences if there are blatant and brazen violations of the Constitution,” Sharif said via Twitter, adding that she hopes the Supreme Court will uphold its role to uphold the Constitution.
Addressing the nation afterward, Khan urged the country of 220 million to prepare for early elections. “The public decides who they want to be in power,” says Khan. “I want to tell the public to get ready for the elections.”
Khan’s close aide, Fawad Chaudhry, defended the prime minister and asked the president to decide on the constitutionality of the motion of no confidence.
Speaking to CNBC in a phone interview from Islamabad an hour before Parliament met, he said an election was underway.
Chaudhry, who holds the law and information and radio catalogs in Khan’s cabinet, said: “I think we are heading towards an election… given our current situation, the best way is to do a new missions”.
When asked if Khan could become the first prime minister in Pakistan for a full term, Chaudhry replied.
The opposition needed the support of at least 172 lawmakers out of 342 to oust the prime minister through a motion of no-confidence. Pakistani media have reported that opposition parties managed to gain the support of 177 members even excluding dissidents from Khan’s own party.
Chaudhry reiterated Khan’s accusations that the vote of no confidence was the result of an “American plot” to overthrow his government because of his increasingly close relationship with Russia. Khan was in Russia the day the invasion of Ukraine began.
US officials have denied allegations of a conspiracy. “We are closely monitoring developments in Pakistan and we respect, we support the constitutional process and the rule of law of Pakistan,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday.