Pakistan's political opposition ousted the country's embattled prime minister in a no-confidence vote early Sunday, which they won after several of Imran Khan's allies and a key coalition party deserted him. The combined opposition that spans the political spectrum from the left to the radically religious will form the new government, the AP reports, with the head of one of the largest parties, the Pakistani Muslim League, taking over as prime minister. Anticipating his loss, Khan, who charged the opposition colluded with the US to unseat him, has called on his supporters to stage rallies nationwide on Sunday.
Khan's options are limited. Should he see a big turnout in his support, he may try to keep the momentum of street protests as a way to pressure Parliament to hold early elections. Khan earlier had tried to sidestep the vote by dissolving Parliament and calling early elections, but a Supreme Court ruling ordered the vote to go ahead. Relations have been cooling between Khan and a powerful military who many of his political opponents allege helped him come to power in general elections in 2018. The military has directly ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 75 years and wields considerable power over civilian governments, which worry that a disgruntled army could unseat them.
The opposition charged Khan with economic mismanagement as inflation soars and the Pakistani rupee plummets in value. In a speech Friday, Khan doubled down on accusations that his opponents colluded with the US to unseat him over his foreign policy choices, which often seemed to favor China and Russia. Khan said the US opposed his Feb. 24 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin hours after tanks rolled into Ukraine; the US has denied any involvement in Pakistan's internal politics. "This would be the first time in Pakistan’s history that a no-confidence vote succeeds in ousting a prime minister—the fulfilment of a constitutional process that was far from guaranteed after Khan's attempts to derail the vote,” said a US-based analyst. "That, in itself, is significant, and could give Pakistan something to build on going forward."
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