Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for an early election after a vote of no confidence against him was unexpectedly canceled by the parliament’s deputy speaker on Sunday.
Khan PTI’s party effectively lost its majority in the National Assembly last week when seven MPs from its coalition partner decided to join the opposition’s ranks.
The PM’s rivals insisted that this had given them a real chance of ousting Khan, who has been in office since 2018.
But the parliament’s deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri canceled the no-confidence motion brought by the opposition in a surprise move, citing “foreign interference.”
Khan, who claims there is a US-led “international conspiracy” to remove him from power, then delivered a televised address to the nation, saying it should “prepare for election.”
“You will decide the future of this nation, not the corrupt or the foreigners,” he said.
“Buying people through money” has been the reason for the current crisis, Khan said, advising those allegedly trying to depose him to “put that money in something better.”
Pakistani President Arif Alvi has dissolved the parliament after a motion by Khan. According to the country’s laws, a general election will take place within the next 90 days.
The leader of the opposition PPP party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has claimed that the government has “violated the constitution” by rejecting the no-confidence vote.
The “united opposition” was going to stage a sit-in at the National Assembly until the vote on Khan’s future took place, he said, while also promising to challenge the decision in court.
Islamabad had summoned the American envoy to the country earlier this week after media reports claiming that Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu told the Pakistani ambassador to the US that “relations with Pakistan cannot improve” as long as Khan was in power, but the country would be “forgiven for its mistakes” if the PM were ousted through a no-confidence vote.