Pakistan parliament to try again on vote to oust PM Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s parliament will vote on Saturday whether to remove Imran Khan as prime minister, days after he blocked a similar attempt, potentially adding to political and economic uncertainty in the nuclear-armed country.
Ahead of the vote that Khan is widely expected to lose, the former cricket star vowed to “struggle” against any move to replace him, the latest twist in a crisis that has threatened political and economic stability in the South Asian nation of 220 million people.
Khan acted unconstitutionally last Sunday in blocking a no-confidence vote and dissolving parliament, the country’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, ordering parliament to reconvene.
Lawmakers return to parliament’s lower house around 10:30 a.m. (0530 GMT). The vote brought by opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, the front-runner to replace Khan, is the fourth point on the day’s agenda.
The prime minister, 69, who surged to power in 2018 with the military’s support, recently lost his parliamentary majority when allies quit his coalition government. Opposition parties say he has failed to revive an economy battered by Covid-19 or fulfil promises to make Pakistan a corruption-free, prosperous nation respected on the world stage.
The opposition and some analysts say Khan has fallen out with the military, a charge he and the military deny. The army has ruled the state for half its 75-year post-colonial history, and no prime minister has completed their full five-year term.
The prime minister, who enjoyed widespread popular support when he took office, said late on Friday he was disappointed with the court ruling but accepted it. He had called an election after dissolving parliament.
But he said he would not recognise any opposition government that replaced him.
“I will not accept an imported government,” he told the nation in a late-night address, suggesting the move to oust him was part of a foreign conspiracy and calling for peaceful protests on Sunday. “I’m ready for a struggle.”
Khan opposed the US-led intervention in Afghanistan and has developed relations with Russia since becoming prime minister. He has accused the United States of supporting a plot to oust him, without offering evidence of his claim, which Washington has dismissed.
As the turmoil continued, Pakistan’s rupee hit all-time lows on Thursday and foreign exchange reserves tumbled. The central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 2.5 percentage points, the biggest hike since 1996.
If Khan loses the no-confidence vote, the opposition will put forward a candidate for prime minister.
Sharif, the younger brother of three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, said after the court ruling that the opposition had nominated him to take over should Khan be ousted.

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