'Imran Khan has to resign... can't keep running': Pak's Zardari as net tightens
Imran Khan no-confidence vote: The former cricketer has insisted he won't resign and says 'foreign powers' are working against him.
Imran Khan 'has to resign' as prime minister of Pakistan, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, said Wednesday amid growing speculation Khan, a former World Cup-winning cricket icon, is running out of options as he tries to stay in power. Zardari warned Imran Khan he 'can't keep running for long' and suggested a vote on the no-confidence motion tabled Monday be brought forward. "... let's have the voting tomorrow and settle the matter," he told reporters in Islamabad.
Zardari was speaking at a joint press conference with Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, the leader of Pak's Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P), which was allied with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led coalition government.
"We have gathered at a historic moment. More than congratulations, this is a test through which the national leadership has to pass," Siddiqui was quoted by Pak daily Dawn, "Today is also a day for prayers... this time we can [strive for] a democracy whose effects can reach the common people of Pakistan."
In a potentially decisive move late last night it was confirmed the MQM-P had joined lawmakers from Khan's PTI and independents in striking a deal with the PPP. Zardari had said then only a formal ratification of their agreement - now completed - remained. "Congratulations, Pakistan," Zardari wrote.
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The development has left Khan's future in tatters as the PTI-led coalition lost its already slender majority in the lower house of the Pak parliament.
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The National Assembly has 342 members, with the majority mark at 172 - also the number needed by the opposition for the no-confidence motion to succeed.
A vote on the motion is expected on Sunday.
The PTI-led coalition was formed with the support of 179 members but desertions have left Khan with just 164. The opposition has 177 supporters - they don't even need the support of the disgruntled PTI lawmakers.
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Opposition parties have accused Imran Khan of mismanaging the economy, foreign policy and resorting to heavy-handed measures against critics.
Khan's ouster would likely mean more instability in the nuclear armed country, in which the military has a long record of intervening in politics.
The ex-cricketer has remained defiant so far though, insisting he will not resign and claiming attempts through 'foreign powers' to effect a regime change.
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"Our people are being used. …some people are using money against us. We know from what places attempts are being to pressure us. We have been threatened in writing but we will not compromise on national interest," he said.
With input from ANI