Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday stumped his political rivals and called for snap elections, scuttling the no-confidence motion against his government in the national assembly that would likely have seen the cricketer-turned-politician booted from office.
“The conspiracy to take down this government has collapsed,” Mr Khan, 69, said in a short televised address to the nation.
“Those who were ready with achkans (knee-length coat) and the money they spent to buy people will now go to waste. Buying people’s support with money has resulted in this (situation). Put that money into something better, for orphanages, etc. I implore the nation to prepare for elections. You will decide the future of this nation, not foreigners or corrupt people,” Mr Khan told his countrymen, once again underlining the charge that foreign powers were trying to bring a leadership change in Islamabad.
The country will go to the polls within 90 days, whether Mr Khan gets a second innings remains to be seen.
No Prime Minister of Pakistan has ever completed a full term, and Mr Khan has been facing the biggest challenge to his rule since being elected in 2018, with opponents accusing him of economic mismanagement and bungling foreign policy.
“This day will be remembered as a black day in Pakistan’s constitutional history,” said Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), who had been tipped to replace Mr Khan if the vote had succeeded.
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.