Imran Khan loses majority

Islamabad: A key partner of the ruling coalition in Pakistan on Wednesday said it will support Opposition’s no-confidence motion in the National Assembly, in a major blow to embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan who has now effectively lost majority in Parliament.

Addressing a press conference here, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), a key ally of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led coalition government, formally announced that it was joining the opposition ranks.

We want to make a new beginning for politics of tolerance and true democracy, said MQM-P chief Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.

The Khan government effectively lost majority after the MQM-P with its seven members decided to join the opposition.

Another ally of the ruling coalition, the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) with five members in the lower house had announced on Monday that it had accepted the opposition’s invitation to vote against Khan.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said that Prime Minister Khan will address the nation on Wednesday evening and discuss the prevailing political situation.

Briefly talking to the media after a special session of cabinet, which was chaired by the premier, Rashid said Khan also shared the threatening letter with the cabinet colleagues, who in return expressed complete trust in him.

To a question if Khan would announce his resignation in his speech, Rashid said: “No way. He will fight till the last ball.” The minister also said that Khan himself or foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi may also brief the parliament in-camera about the threatening letter.

Pakistan plunged into uncertainty on March 8 after the combined opposition submitted the motion with the National Assembly, which will convene on Thursday to debate the motion.

Prime Minister Khan, who needs 172 votes in the house of 342 to foil the Opposition’s bid to topple him, is facing his toughest political test since assuming office in 2018 as defections in his party and cracks in the ruling coalition appeared to have made his position fragile.

Geo News earlier reported that MQM-P lawmakers Farogh Naseem and Aminul Haque, serving as federal ministers, submitted their resignations to the prime minister.

Khan, 69, is heading a coalition government and he can be removed if some of the partners decide to switch sides. The PTI has 155 members in the 342-member National Assembly and needs at least 172 lawmakers to retain power.

Khan is facing a rebellion by his about two dozen lawmakers and allied parties.

No prime minister in Pakistan’s history has ever been ousted through a no-confidence motion, and Khan is the third premier to face the challenge.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Khan strictly directed his party lawmakers to either abstain or not attend the National Assembly session on the day of voting on the no-confidence motion against him, which is likely to be held in the first week of April.

Khan came to power in 2018 with promises to create a ‘Naya Pakistan’ but miserably failed to address the basic problem of keeping the prices of commodities in control, giving air to the sails of opposition ships to make war on his government.

No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term in office.