Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing arguably the biggest challenge of his political career.As the opposition seeks to remove him from office in a vote of no confidence.
The country’s lawmakers will convene on Thursday to begin debating the motion as. Mr Khan’s future appears to be hanging by a thread. A vote is due by Monday.
In recent days there has been a flurry of activity – and what some argue were tactics straight out of. Machiavelli’s playbook – which resulted in several Khan allies deserting his Pakistan. Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, tilting the scales firmly in the opposition’s favour.
A simple majority of 172 in the 342-seat National Assembly against. The former cricket legend would cut short his tenure as PM. On Wednesday, the magic number was breached when his main coalition ally, the MQM, joined the opposition. It means on paper the opposition now commands 175 votes to the government’s 164.
Rift With The Military?
Imran Khan, elected in July 2018 vowing to tackle corruption and fix the economy, isn’t going quietly. He hosted a massive rally on Sunday in Islamabad to show he remains wildly popular with his supporters. Thundering against his arch-rivals – three-time premier Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari, husband. The murdered PM Benazir Bhutto – Mr Khan also waved a letter at the adoring crowd. Alleging it contained evidence of a “foreign conspiracy” in cahoots with “corrupt thieves” aiming to topple his government.
Imran Khan’s government does not need to look far to find its troubles. It has lost public support over rocketing inflation and ballooning foreign debt. “For instance, from January 2020 to March 2022, India’s food inflation has been about 7% whereas. Pakistan’s has been around 23%,” explains Uzair Younus, director of the Pakistan Initiative at the Washington-based Atlantic Council.
But an increasingly fractious relationship with the military – considered by many the architect of his political success. Although both sides deny this – is why some analysts believe the writing is on the wall for him.
To many observers, the genesis of the current crisis can be traced back to October when. Mr Khan refused to sign off on the appointment of a new chief of Pakistan’s powerful ISI intelligence agency.
Analyst Arifa Noor believes that while in Pakistan conflict is “inherent”. The relationship between civilians The military – which has directly ruled the country for almost half of its existence. The issue of replacing intelligence chief General Faiz Hameed caused a rift.
Singapore-based researcher Abdul Basit agrees, adding that the standoff was due to Mr Khan’s “ego” and “rigidity” which brought an issue into the public domain which was always discussed behind closed doors.
“Imran Khan crossed the military’s red line, and while he eventually accepted. The appointment of the person the military wanted, it was downhill for him from then on,” he says.
The military and Mr Khan deny there’s been any falling out.
Third Time Unlucky?
There have been only two previous instances in Pakistan’s political history when sitting prime ministers. Faced a vote of no confidence, and both times Benazir Bhutto, in 1989, and Shaukat Aziz, in 2006, emerged unscathed. But the current parliamentary calculus clearly points towards a heavy defeat for Mr Khan. Mr Khan, even if his own party dissidents take no part.
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The government is seeking a Supreme Court ruling that would not only bar dissident PTI members from voting under. An anti-defection law, but also disqualify them from parliament for life.
Meanwhile, the PM and his cabinet members are putting on a brave face, meeting allies and saying they’re confident of victory.
Uzair Younus believes Imran Khan may have missed his chance to offer concessions to his allies. And even if he “miraculously manages to ride out the storm”, he will be in a very precarious position.
“I think he must call early elections. If somehow, he survives, the longer he stays in power, the more pressure there will be on him to fix the economy,” he says.
For Abdul Basit, too, the chances of Mr Khan surviving are nearly non-existent, and his prospects poor, if by a miracle he does somehow scrape through.
“Life will be terribly difficult and under current circumstances, legislation will be a nightmare, which is why I foresee elections in the next six months or so,” he says.