Pakistan: End of applause for Prime Minister Imran Khan

Posted on April 10, 2022 at 2:01 PM

Subterfuge and political maneuvering were not enough. It’s a round of applause for Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. He was overthrown on Sunday after the approval by 174 votes out of 342 of a motion of censure by the deputies of the National Assembly.

If no Prime Minister has completed his mandate since the country’s independence in 1947, it is the first time that parliamentarians have ended a government with a vote of no confidence of this type. Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and younger brother of Nawaz Sharif, who served three times as the country’s prime minister, is likely to succeed him as head of the country.

In power since 2018, the 69-year-old Imran Khan, famous for leading the national cricket team, the country’s king sport, to its only victory in the 1992 World Cup, tried everything until the last minute to stay in the power. Throughout Saturday, his supporters sought to delay the inevitable, even though they already knew they no longer had the majority, some of the allies in the ruling coalition of Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Pakistan Justice Movement). , having deserted several days ago.

The Supreme Court decides

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court had inflicted a serious snub on him by judging his maneuver last weekend to escape this opposition motion of censure unconstitutional. The Court found that Imran Khan’s allies had acted illegally by refusing to put this motion to a vote, claiming it was the result of “foreign interference”, and by deciding to dissolve the Assembly to open the way for early elections within three months. . Until Friday night, Imran Khan had capitulated, assuring in a speech to the Nation that he “accepted the ruling of the Supreme Court” that required this vote to be held.

The virulent opposition led by Shebaz Sharif accuses Imran Khan of failing to revive the economy, damaged by the coronavirus pandemic, and of failing to keep his promises regarding transparency and control of government action. At 70, the president of the Pakistan Muslim League, himself an experienced politician, led for years the government of the province of Punjab, the most populous in the country and an electoral stronghold of his party.

A stern leader, famous for his passionate outbursts, he was known for quoting revolutionary poems in his speeches and public meetings, and was considered a workaholic by his colleagues. Critics say he failed to address the province’s core issues, including civil service, health care and agricultural reform, instead focusing on projects aimed at the campaign, such as distributing laptops to students or offering Free transportation to the unemployed.

a slow economy

If he is appointed Prime Minister on Monday, the task ahead of him is immense. The economic difficulties, the resurgence of the attacks and the stormy relationship with the United States will be at the top of his concerns. In the economic aspect, the expansion of the external debt (130,000 million dollars forecast this year by the IMF, or 40.6% of GDP), galloping inflation (around 12%) and the strong depreciation of the rupee ( below 190 rupees to the dollar, a drop of almost a third since 2018) has coincided with slow growth in the last three years. After a 0.5% drop between 2019 and 2020, GDP was expected to rebound by almost 4% the following year, according to IMF forecasts.

On the security side, Pakistan has been facing for several weeks the return in force of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban, galvanized by the coming to power of those from Afghanistan in August 2021.

The future head of government will also have to work to restore relations with the United States, an ally country. Imran Khan had accused Washington of having sought to overthrow him with the complicity of the Pakistani opposition. He had even aroused the ire of Westerners by his official visit to Moscow on the very day of the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. If Washington has steadfastly denied any interference in Pakistani affairs, the next government will have a lot to do to renew ties with this major arms supplier.

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