Pakistan PM Khan gets reprieve as move to oust him blocked

Pakistani lawmakers of the united opposition walk towards the parliament house building to cast their vote on a motion of no-confidence to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Islamabad, Pakistan April 3, 2022.

ISLAMABAD, April 3 (Reuters) — Imran Khan survived a move to oust him as Pakistan’s prime minister on Sunday, getting a reprieve when the deputy speaker of parliament blocked a no-confidence motion as unconstitutional.

Khan, whose fate was not immediately clear, advised the country’s president to dissolve parliament, leading to fresh political instability in the nuclear-armed country of 220 million people.

“I’ve sent advice to the president to dissolve assemblies,” Khan said in a televised address, referring to national and state legislatures.

He called on the nation to prepare for fresh elections.

The opposition vowed to fight the block, made by Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri of Khan’s political party.

“We will stage a sit-in at the National Assembly [parliament]. We are also moving to the Supreme Court today,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, head of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), told reporters.

If the vote had gone through and the opposition remained united, the former cricket star who surged to power in 2018 but recently lost his parliamentary majority, would have been out of office.

A prominent newspaper had recently said Khan was “as good as gone”, but he had urged his supporters to take to the streets on Sunday ahead of the planned vote.