The embattled prime minister of Pakistan is set to speak to the nation as he faces a no-confidence vote in parliament that could mean the end of his premiership.
Imran Khan was expected to make the address on Wednesday but was forced to postpone until Thursday after a vital coalition party joined the opposition, bringing an end to Khan’s majority in the parliament.
The move from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan (MQM-P) puts the expected number of opposition votes against Khan at 177 – five more than the 172 that is needed in the 342-member national assembly to oust him.
The vote of no confidence is expected to take place on Sunday or Monday, after a debate in parliament beginning on Thursday.
The main opposition leaders, Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, asked Khan to resign before the vote since he had lost the majority, but as the political temperature is rising in Islamabad, the chances of him doing so are considered slim.
The information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, on Wednesday tweeted: “Prime minister Imran Khan is a player who fights till the last ball. He will not resign.” Khan has been holding rallies of his supporters before the confidence vote.
Speaking to thousands of his supporters in Pakistan’s capital on Sunday, Khan pulled a note from his waistcoat pocket and raised it in the air as “evidence” that a foreign conspiracy was under way in the country to oust him, saying local leaders were acting at the behavior of foreign powers.
Abdul Basit, a former diplomat, told local media the so-called threatening letter was a diplomatic assessment from Pakistan’s former US ambassador Asad Majeed Khan and not a threat from the US government.
Khan has also threatened MPs with the wrath of the masses if they vote against him. Kanwar Naveed Jamil, the deputy convener of MQM-P, was harassed and called a traitor by Khan’s supporters in Islamabad international airport on Wednesday after his party parted his ways with the prime minister.
Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar of the opposition Pakistan Peoples party (PPP), the third largest in parliament, said populist politicians around the globe had polarized societies and Khan was no exception.
“Khan over the years has painted the opposition leaders and their parties as corrupt traitors and labeled them as public enemies. He and his ministers have publicly threatened the dissidents within his own party of severe consequences for not choosing to side with his government in the vote of no confidence, ”he said.
“Now they have taken it a step further by harassing and assaulting a member of the former coalition partner who recently decided to part ways with Imran Khan’s government … We wish to see him booted out through democratic and parliamentary procedure of a no-confidence vote. Perhaps Imran Khan should sit back and reflect on his own performance in office rather than whipping up more hatred.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism