Pakistan PM’s future in doubt as key ally changes sides

Bulsha:- Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s future looked increasingly in doubt on Wednesday after a key coalition partner switched sides ahead of parliament’s vote of no-confidence over the weekend.

No prime minister in the country’s history has seen a full term in office, and Khan faces the biggest challenge to his rule since his election in 2018, with opponents accusing him of economic mismanagement and foreign policy manipulation.

“He will fight until the last and last ball,” Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told reporters, using the cricket metaphor to describe Khan – one of the sport’s greatest international players before he entered politics.

Discussion on the impeachment proposal is set to begin on Thursday, leaving Khan scrambling to keep his Pakistani members of the PTI (Insaf Movement) side by side – as well as a slew of minority parties.

The Pakistani government is also struggling to contain the escalation of militancy by the Pakistani Taliban, which on Wednesday announced a Ramadan offensive against security forces.

The group said it would start on the first day of the Islamic month of fasting, which begins on Sunday or Monday.

The military said six of its soldiers were killed near the border with Afghanistan on Wednesday in an attack claimed by the Pakistan Taliban.

Khan was scheduled to address the nation on Wednesday evening, but it was later postponed without reason.

On paper, the ruling PTI party and coalition partners won 176 seats in the 342-member parliament, but the MQM said on Wednesday its seven lawmakers would vote with the opposition, which has 163 seats.

More than a dozen PTI lawmakers have also indicated they will cross the floor, although party leaders are trying to persuade the courts to prevent them from voting on Sunday.

In the past, Pakistani parties have also resorted to physically preventing lawmakers from voting against key legislation by blocking access to the National Assembly, which has led to cat-and-mouse chases and even accusations of kidnapping.

A prominent MQM leader, Faisal Subzwari, wrote on Twitter, Wednesday, that his party had ended an agreement with the opposition, led by the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League.

Hours later, Syed Amin-ul-Haq, the heavyweight of the MQM-P movement, announced his resignation as Minister of Technology in Khan’s government.

Warring Dynasties: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) dominated national politics for decades until Khan formed a coalition against groups of usually feuding dynasties.

He was elected after promising to stamp out decades of entrenched corruption and nepotism, but he has struggled to maintain support with soaring inflation, a weak rupee and crippling debt.

Some analysts say Khan has lost crucial support for the military – allegations both sides deny – and that the Pakistani military is the key to political power.

Four military coups – and at least several unsuccessful ones – have occurred since independence in 1947, and the country has spent more than three decades under the rule of the military.

If Khan loses a vote next week, he may head a new government headed by Shahbaz Sharif, brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has not returned since his release from prison for medical treatment abroad.

It is also likely that the role of PPP President Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and former President Asif Zardari.

One of the cards in Jaab Khan may be to call an early election – the next one must be held before October 2023.

“The best option in this situation would have been new elections to enable the new government to address the economic, political and external problems facing the country,” said political analyst Talat Masoud, a retired general.

“The country is heading towards something unpredictable… where there will be a lot of chaos and problems.”

Hassan al-Askari, another political analyst, agreed with him.

“The long-term political repercussions of the developing situation will be instability, the continuation of conflict in politics, and the inability to face the economic challenges that Pakistan is currently facing,” he said.

Khan has been criticizing his domestic opponents for weeks, but said Sunday at a rally in the capital that a “foreign plot” was planning to remove him.

“We have received written threats, but we will not compromise on national interests,” he said, without providing evidence or details.


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