Prime Minister Imran Khan on April 8 said he accepted a Pakistani Supreme Court ruling that found his recent attempt to avoid a no-confidence vote in parliament unconstitutional. However, in the face of a vote that will likely oust him, Khan said he would not accept any government that may replace him and claimed he was the victim of a U.S. plot aimed at "regime change" in Islamabad.
"I was disappointed with the Supreme Court decision but I want to make it clear that I respect the Supreme Court and Pakistan's judiciary," said Khan in a late-night address to the nation, while complaining that the court should have examined his reason for rejecting initial calls for the no-confidence vote. "There is a conspiracy from abroad. This is a very serious allegation ... that a foreign country conspired to topple an entire government."
Crisis pushes Pakistan toward political and economic instability
In the address, Khan attacked the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PLM-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPP), two dynastic political groups who set aside differences to join forces in seeking to oust Khan and his upstart Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI). In office since 2018, the former international cricket star's government began to wobble when members of his own party joined a break away coalition partner in abandoning him. Khan had tried to avoid the vote scheduled for April 3 by dissolving parliament and calling for new elections.
April 7's Supreme Court ruling called for a no-confidence vote to take place in a special parliamentary session at 10:30 a.m. (05:30 UTC) on the morning of April 9. The push to remove Khan from office was led by opposition politician Shehbaz Sharif, whose older brother Nawaz served three terms as Pakistan's prime minister. Sharif said the opposition had put his name forth to take over if Khan loses April 9's vote.
Khan has been a vocal critic of the U.S. and forged ties with Russia. The crisis threatens the economical and political stability of nuclear-armed country of 220 million people. Though observers say April 9's vote may in fact end some of the political uncertainty that has dogged the nation under Khan.
js/kb (AFP, Reuters)