Islamabad, Mar 8 (EFE).- A coalition of Pakistani opposition parties on Tuesday brought a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, arguing that he had lost majority in the lower house of the parliament.
Leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Alliance, a coalition established in 2020 with the aim to oust Khan, said that it was time for the PM to step down, even as thousands of opposition protesters arrived in the capital to demand his resignation.
“We have submitted a no-trust motion today,” the president of the main opposition party Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Shahbaz Sharif, said in a presser.
The speaker of the National Assembly is required to call a session of the lower house within 14 days of receiving the motion.
The opposition has claimed that the country’s “economy has collapsed,” while Shahbaz – the brother of former president Nawaz Sharif – said that “inflation and unemployment have reached their highest point in the country’s history.
He also blamed Khan for foreign policy “failures,” especially vis-a-vis his stance towards the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Pakistan has a billion-dollar trade with the European Union but he (Khan) angered them with a single speech” Shahbaz said, referring to the recent speech of the PM in which he criticized the EU for purring pressure on Pakistan to condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Officially, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) has the support of 179 lawmakers in the 342-member assembly, while the opposition is backed by 162 members.
“We will receive more than 172 votes which are required (to oust the prime minister),” former president and the co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, Asif Ali Zardari, said during the press conference.
The government has accused the opposition of playing in the hands of the West, after Khan decided to stay neutral on the Ukraine war and refused to offer air bases on Pakistani soil to the United States.
“The no-trust motion is an internationally sponsored plan,” tweeted Shahbaz Gill, a close aid of Khan.
The motion comes a year after the PM survived a similar proposal in the National Assembly, with the voting being boycotted by the opposition, which claims that the government came to power in 2018 through electoral fraud with the backing of the military.
Pakistan is set to hold its next general elections in the second half of 2023.
Meanwhile thousands of PPP supporters are heading to Islamabad in a rally that kicked off in the southern city of Karachi on Feb. 27, demanding Khan’s resignation.
Led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Asif Ali Zardari and assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the protesters have demanded that the authorities allow them to enter the capital and hold a sit-in protest in front of the parliament. EFE