Khan, who is facing the toughest challenge in his political career, called on the country’s president to dissolve parliament and called on the nation to prepare for new elections.
Khan lost the no-confidence motion, which was backed by a coalition of politicians – including more than a dozen defectors from Khan’s own political party. But in a dramatic withdrawal for the obstructed leader, the vote was blocked by the deputy speaker as “unconstitutional”.
For months, Khan has been battling declining foreign exchange reserves and double-digit inflation, with prices of basic necessities such as food and fuel skyrocketing.
After the vote, Information Minister Fawad Chowdhury said Khan would now carry out his duties under Article 224 of the country’s constitution. However, as there is no real precedent for the chain of events on Sunday, what will happen next remains somewhat unclear.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, one of the leaders of the opposition, called Khan’s move “unconstitutional” and added that the matter would be taken to the Supreme Court.
Pakistan’s main opposition parties have been rallying for Khan’s dismissal since he came to power in 2018 after a dramatic election over allegations of vote rigging and foul play.
Opposition groups called for a no-confidence motion in parliament, accusing him of mismanaging the country’s economy and foreign policy.
They called on Khan to resign before the vote. Khan retaliated by calling them “traitors” and repeatedly insisting on his desire to fight the vote.
Khan’s failure to work closely with his allies led the country’s powerful military to sever ties with his coalition government.
Khan had earlier appealed to defecting lawmakers to return to his party, promising to forgive them “just as a father forgives his children.” He warned that those who would vote against him would face social stigma, and that no one would marry their children.
Khan called on his 220 million supporters to rally on the streets of the capital Islamabad on Sunday in protest of the proposed vote. Security has been beefed up around the city, with police patrolling the streets. The city’s red zone, which houses government and military buildings, has been closed with shipping containers.
Last week, thousands of people gathered at the city’s iconic parade ground, chanting slogans in support of Khan, a former international cricket star and politician.
Since the formation of the country in 1947, no Pakistani leader has served a full five-year term as Prime Minister. There are now concerns that Khan’s call for early elections could pose a risk of further political instability in the South Asian country.
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