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Pakistan may hold snap elections, says home minister as PM calls for mass rally

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Thursday there was a chance of a snap election in the country as parliament is set to vote later this month in a no-confidence move against the Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Pakistan’s parliament will convene on Friday to begin proceedings on the no-confidence motion, which could take seven days before voting on whether Khan will be impeached.

Opposition parties tabled the motion on March 8, saying Khan had lost his parliamentary majority after around 20 MPs from his party defected, calling on the prime minister to step down. The opposition accuses Khan of mismanagement of the economy and poor governance.

Before the opposition tabled the no-confidence request in parliament, several senior opposition leaders had called on Khan to announce a snap election, a request his ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party rejected. Many times.

“Pakistan may hold snap elections,” Ahmed told reporters in a surprise statement in Islamabad. “Every day things are getting better,” he added in what was seen as a reference to the risks of a constitutional, administrative and economic crisis in Pakistan following the vote of no confidence.

In a pre-recorded video message to the nation on Thursday, Khan invited Pakistanis to attend a rally in support of his government, scheduled for March 27 in the capital.

Khan announced last week that he would hold a rally of one million people ahead of the parliamentary no-confidence vote.

A date for the vote has yet to be set, but both Khan’s government and the opposition have announced rallies in Islamabad ahead of the event.

The prime minister called the opposition a ‘gang of thieves’ and said they tried to buy off lawmakers’ ‘conscience’, referring to lawmakers in his party who openly announced they would vote against Khan and to members of allied parties who have spoken publicly. against his policy recently.

On Wednesday, Khan told reporters he would not step down over the no-confidence motion: “My prediction is that we will win the no-confidence match.” The opposition needs the support of 172 lawmakers out of the country’s 342 members of the National Assembly for the vote of no confidence to win. Pakistan’s ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party has accused the opposition of bribing its lawmakers to vote against Khan.

The government now hopes to be able to disqualify defaulting lawmakers through a court ruling, which will make it difficult for the opposition to secure a simple majority to overthrow it.

The opposition says it has the numbers needed to win the vote of no confidence, although its leaders are still holding meetings with parties allied with the government to convince them to abandon the coalition.