A fiery Imran Khan addressed his nation on March 31, showcasing his defiance, appealing to his cricketing past and said that he would play to the "last ball" as he refused to resign.
He has also blamed the United States of trying to lead a foreign conspiracy to oust his government during the address, in what appeared to be a slip of tongue; a charge the US has denied. "Well, we are closely following developments in Pakistan, and we respect, we support Pakistan's constitutional process and the rule of law. But when it comes to those allegations, there is no truth to them", said Ned Price, the spokesperson of the US Department of State in a press briefing.
The "last ball" reference was to a no-confidence motion that he is slated to face, which was moved to Sunday, April 3, from March 31, in Pakistan's National Assembly, its lower house of legislature. The oppositions has brought in this vote against Khan's government alleging foreign policy bungles and economic mismanagement. Khan's government has apparently lost its ruling majority in house after an ally pulled its support from the government.
If Khan is ousted, he will continue the infamous legacy of no Pakistani premier having yet completed a full five-year term in office since the inception of Pakistan in 1947. Further, no prime minister has been removed from office in Pakistan through a no-confidence vote. Khan will be the third prime minister to face one, though.
This is not the only problem that Khan is facing. He has apparently lost the support of the Pakistani armed force and intelligence community, a force called 'The Establishment' which is believed to indirect control over national politics. While this influence is wielded when the government is under civil rule, Pakistan has faced four successful coups, and has been under military rule for nearly half of its existence. While Khan's government did enjoy their support at the onset, cracks have appeared.
According to Pakistani media, the opposition has the blessings of the 'the establishment' to oust the government. Khan recently made a statement on the Indian Army too, saying that the Indian Army is not corrupt and they never interfere in the civilian government.
How do the numbers work?
Pakistan's National Assembly is a 342 member house, meaning that a government would need 172 seats in the house to stay in power.
The Pakistani government, led by Khan's Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaaf, has 155 seats on its own. The party got support from smaller political parties, for another 18 seats and had 3 seats of outside support, giving it a total of 176 seats in the Assembly.
However, an ally to government, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (Pakistan) [MQM(P)] with seven seats, withdrew its support from the government, along with the 3 seats from outside support. The opposition claims to have 175 supporters in the Assembly.
What lies ahead for Pakistan?
If Khan is ousted, there is a person tipped to succeed him.
The Leader of Opposition, Shehbaz Sharif, and brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is widely believed to have the support to succeed Khan. It was Sharif that tabled the no-confidence motion against Khan's government in the first place.
He is the longest serving chief minister of the Pakistani province of Punjab, having served the office thrice. He was also in exile for eight years in Saudi Arabia following the military coup in Pakistan led by Parvez Musharraf.
But he is not without his fair share of controversy, having been accused of money laundering by Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau in 2019 along with his son Hamza. In September 2020, he was arrested for his case, and released on bail in April 2021.
As the tenure of Pakistan's National Assembly runs in 2023, the next prime minister - be it Khan or Sharif - could continue to run the government until its expiry. The government also has the option to prematurely dissolve the assembly and call for fresh elections.
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