Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan arrives at the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Beijing National Stadium on February 04, 2022 in Beijing, China
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the president to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections following an opposition attempt to remove him from office.
It came after parliament’s deputy speaker refused to hold a vote of no-confidence the PM was expected to lose.
Opposition MPs are refusing to leave the chamber and filing an appeal with the Constitutional Court.
Mr Khan claims the US is leading an international conspiracy to remove him.
He says this is because of his foreign policy decisions, such as recently visiting Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin and his previous criticism of America’s “War on Terror”.
Opposition politicians ridicule the allegation, and the US has denied it.
The BBC’s Secunder Kermani says prime minister is widely regarded as having come to power with the help of Pakistan’s army, but now observers say they have fallen out.
His political opponents seized the opportunity to table the no confidence vote after persuading a number of his coalition partners to defect to them.
On Sunday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told MPs that Pakistani officials had been told of “an operation for a regime change by a foreign government”.
This, he said, went against the constitution and the deputy speaker chairing the session proceeded to support him and declare the vote unconstitutional.
The opposition are furious.
“The united opposition is not leaving Parliament. Our lawyers are on their way to Supreme Court. We call on ALL institutions to protect, uphold, defend and implement the Constitution of Pakistan,” Chairman of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari tweeted.
Imran Khan, elected in July 2018 vowing to tackle corruption and fix the economy, remains popular with some voters, even though a lot of his public support has been lost as a result of rocketing inflation and ballooning foreign debt.
Last October, Mr Khan refused to sign off on the appointment of a new chief of Pakistan’s powerful ISI intelligence agency.
In public, however, both the military and Mr Khan deny there has been any falling out.
Security around parliament has been boosted amid ongoing uncertainty
There have been only two previous instances in Pakistan’s political history when sitting prime ministers faced a vote of no confidence, and both times Benazir Bhutto, in 1989, and Shaukat Aziz, in 2006, emerged unscathed.
It is unclear how the current impasse will be resolved.
Heavy security has been deployed around government buildings and across the capital, Islamabad.