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Pakistan’s Khan rallies supporters ahead of Parliament vote

ISLAMABAD (AP) – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (AP; pic below) turned to grassroot supporters yesterday lobbying the poor and promising better hospital care as he faces a no-confidence motion in Parliament.

The challenge may be the biggest yet for the former cricket star turned leader since he came to power in 2018. The opposition has demanded Khan step down over his alleged failure to improve the country’s economy.

Pakistan’s key opposition parties launched a formal no-confidence vote for Khan earlier this month. Speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaiser, convened a special session for Friday to deliberate

whether Khan still has majority support in the House. Under the constitution, the Parliament has three days to deliberate after which the lawmakers will vote.

Khan has remained defiant, claiming he still enjoys the backing of the majority of lawmakers in the 342-seat house.

Yesterday, Khan spoke to a gathering at a hospital in Islamabad, lauding his government’s efforts to provide free health care for the poor.

“Since I joined politics, it was my dream that poor people should have free facilities and free medical care,” Khan said, adding that his government has succeeded in providing that to nearly every poor Pakistani citizen.

He also defended his government’s performance, saying all economic indicators show improvement in Pakistan’s economy. But recent mutinies from within Khan’s own Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party could easily tip the scales against him. As many as 13 lawmakers from his party have indicated they could vote against him.

After the 2018 election, Khan secured 176 votes in Parliament to become prime minister.

At a televised rally on Sunday, he urged the dissenters to come back, saying he would forgive them, while also claiming they had been bribed by the opposition – a charge the turncoats deny.

Also, several lawmakers from parties allied with Khan opened talks last week with the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement on a possible new re-alignment in Parliament, should Khan be ousted.

The votes of the dissenters from Khan’s ranks have also become an issue. Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi yesterday asked the Supreme Court for guidance on whether their votes should be counted and considered valid.

Some law experts said those votes will be counted – even if the Election Commission later disqualifies them on complaints from Khan’s party.

A senior Pakistani analyst Imtiaz Gul, said it seems the opposition’s no-confidence motion has garnered substantive support.