Pakistan PM calls for street protests ahead of no-confidence vote

No Pakistan premier has ever completed a full term, and Mr. Khan is facing the biggest challenge to his rule since being elected in 2018, with opponents accusing him of economic mismanagement and foreign-policy bungling.

Updated - April 03, 2022 08:01 am IST

Published - April 02, 2022 08:10 pm IST - Islamabad

Supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, carry signs as they chant slogans accusing the U.S. of plotting to overthrow Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, during a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan on April 2, 2022.

Supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, carry signs as they chant slogans accusing the U.S. of plotting to overthrow Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, during a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan on April 2, 2022. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called on his supporters to take to the streets Sunday ahead of a parliamentary no-confidence vote that could see him thrown out of office.

No Pakistan premier has ever completed a full term, and Mr. Khan is facing the biggest challenge to his rule since being elected in 2018, with opponents accusing him of economic mismanagement and foreign-policy bungling.

Parliament is due to debate the motion Sunday — with a vote possibly the same day — but Mr. Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) effectively lost its majority in the 342-member assembly last week when a coalition partner said its seven lawmakers would vote with the opposition.

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

On Saturday Mr. Khan called on supporters to take to the streets to peacefully protest against what he said was a "conspiracy" hatched outside Pakistan to unseat him.

"I want you all to protest for an independent and free Pakistan," he said during a public question and answer phone-in broadcast by state media.

Earlier this week he accused the United States of meddling in Pakistan's affairs, with local media reporting he had received a briefing letter from Islamabad's ambassador to Washington recording a senior U.S. official telling him they felt relations would be better if Mr. Khan left office.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters there was "no truth" to the allegations.

Mr. Khan has accused the opposition of conspiring with Washington to remove him because he won't take the West's side on global issues against Russia and China.

He called his opponents "robbers, cowards, deceivers".

The opposition is headed by the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — two usually feuding dynastic groups that dominated national politics for decades until Khan forged a coalition against them.

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