Is the end near? Imran Khan’s options fade

Agencies | , Islamabad
Apr 01, 2022 04:43 AM IST

Fearing a defeat in the no-confidence vote, Pakistan’s PM is said to have offered dissolving assembly.

Facing imminent ouster, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan reportedly offered to dissolve the National Assembly on the condition that the opposition withdraw the no-confidence motion against him, local media reported on Friday.

Imran Khan has effectively lost the majority in Parliament after a key partner of the ruling coalition joined the ranks of the Opposition. 
Imran Khan has effectively lost the majority in Parliament after a key partner of the ruling coalition joined the ranks of the Opposition. 

According to a report in Geo News, an “important personality” delivered PM Khan’s message to the leader of the opposition Shahbaz Shariz. Khan also said that he is willing to face any situation if his offer finds no takers. There was no details on the opposition’s reaction to Khan’s message.

In an address to the nation, hours after the report, Khan said he will face a no-confidence vote on Sunday amid reports that the opposition has garnered the numbers it needs to oust him from office.

Also Read | Imran blames ‘foreign hand’, says he’ll fight till the last ball

The joint opposition, led by former president Asif Ali Zardari and ex-premier Nawaz Sharif, had cobbled together 196 lawmakers the day before, well above the 172 needed to vote out the former cricket star, local media said. Some of Khan’s own party members are also expected to vote against him amid growing public anger over rising living costs.

“On Sunday, Pakistan’s fate will be decided,” Khan said in a televised address on Thursday. “I will fight to the last and if I win, I will come back stronger.”

Parliament adjourned

His address came after Pakistan’s parliament on Thursday adjourned a debate on the political survival of the embattled premier. There was no immediate explanation for the adjournment of Thursday’s session, which was postponed within minutes of opening. Parliament was to reconvene on Sunday to begin the debate.

Also Read | Bilawal says Pak PM Imran Khan has no safe passage, but can make an honourable exit

Khan came to power in 2018, promising to rid Pakistan of corruption even as he partnered with some of the country’s tainted old guard. He called them ‘electables’ — necessary to win elections because their wealth and vast land holdings guaranteed votes in large swaths of the country.

A former international cricket star turned politician, Khan has espoused a more conservative brand of Islam. He has also kept company with radical clerics, including Maulana Tariq Jameel, who once said that women in short skirts had caused the Covid-19 epidemic.

Still, Khan is credited with building the country’s foreign reserves, now over $18 billion. Remittances from Pakistanis living overseas was a whopping $29 billion in 2021, despite the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

Also Read | Pak NSC issues demarche over letter

His reputation for fighting corruption has encouraged Pakistanis to send money home and he has also cracked down on the unofficial money transfer system, known as Hawala. However, the opposition blames him for high inflation and a weak Pakistani rupee.

His handling of the coronavirus pandemic brought him international praise.

Khan’s implementation of so-called “smart” lockdowns that targeted heavily infected areas — rather than a nationwide shutdown — kept some of the country’s key industries such as construction afloat.

On Thursday, the leader of a key opposition party, Bilawal Bhutto, urged Khan to resign. “You have lost. . . You have only one option: Resign,” Bhutto said.

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