a second provincial assembly dissolved by ex-Prime Minister Khan


Imran Khan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan on June 4, 2021. SAIYNA BASHIR / REUTERS

The assembly of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was dissolved on Wednesday January 10 by the party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, a few days after an identical maneuver in another province, in order to force the holding of early elections.

The Punjab provincial assembly had also been dissolved on Saturday by Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), with the aim of forcing the government to call elections as soon as possible.

Dissolution with immediate effect

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Haji Ghulam Ali signed a letter on Wednesday announcing the dissolution of the regional parliament.with immediate effectat the request of the province’s chief minister, a senior PTI official.

The PTI held, alone or in coalition, the majority in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (North-West) and Punjab (Central-East), the most populous province of the country. New elections should be organized within three months in these two provinces.

Pressure on the ruling coalition

Legislative elections must take place by mid-October at the latest. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government is doing everything to prevent them from taking place sooner, in order to give itself a chance to recover the economy and its faltering popularity by then. Imran Khan, who was ousted in April by a vote of no confidence, continues to enjoy solid popularity.

The dissolution of the provincial assemblies is part of its strategy to put pressure on the fragile coalition in power and accentuate its difficulties in managing the country. Since April, it has also organized multiple and large rallies across the country for this purpose.

Political and economic crises: the United States in the sights

Pakistan has been in the throes of a political crisis since the ousting of the former cricket champion who keeps rehashing his thesis that his downfall was the result of a « conspiracyhatched by the United States.

Imran Khan came to power in 2018, after the victory in the legislative elections of the PTI, on a populist platform combining promises of social reforms, religious conservatism and the fight against corruption. But under his tenure, the economic situation deteriorated and he lost the support of the army which had been accused of helping to get him elected.

In November, he was shot and wounded during a political rally. He attributed the assassination attempt to his successor and a senior army intelligence officer, without providing evidence for his allegations.

The country is also grappling with a serious economic crisis, marked by the fall of the rupee, galloping inflation and the drying up of foreign exchange reserves. The situation was aggravated by the devastating floods last summer.

SEE ALSO – Ex-Pakistani prime minister shot in leg

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