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Pakistan opposition seeks PM’s resignation after government ally quits coalition

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s joint opposition on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign after a major coalition partner formally announced the withdrawal of its support for the government, resulting in the ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party losing its majority in the national assembly.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan struck a deal with the opposition Pakistan People’s Party and signaled it would vote against Khan in a no-confidence vote expected to take place in early April.

Khan, a former cricket star, is facing his toughest political challenge since assuming office in 2018 as the opposition tabled a no-confidence motion against him in the National Assembly on Monday, amid accusations he has mismanaged the economy and governed poorly. 

The MQM-P has seven lawmakers in the National Assembly, pushing the opposition’s tally to 175 in the 342-member National Assembly, or three votes more than the number required to topple Khan’s administration.

“We are with you in this change, and hope this will help bring positive change in the lives of the people,” Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, convener of the MQM-P, said during a joint press conference with opposition leaders.

Earlier the party’s two federal ministers resigned from their Cabinet portfolios to join the opposition ranks.

“The prime minister should set a new tradition by tendering his resignation after losing the majority,” Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, said during a joint news conference with other politicians who want to oust Khan.

The opposition alliance has also nominated Sharif, president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, for the coveted premiership slot after Khan’s exit.

PPP chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, also demanded the PM’s resignation, saying he had lost the majority and confidence of the house.

“The prime minister isn’t left with any option,” he said, adding that voting on the no-confidence motion could be held even on Friday if Khan decided not to step down.

“Today, MQM Pakistan has joined the opposition ranks. Shehbaz Sharif has rightly given (Khan) a challenge in the spirit of statesmanship to resign.”

Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam party, another key member of the opposition, said the joint opposition aim was to “achieve prosperity and stability in the country.”

“We’ll work for it,” he added. “We want to become a nation.”

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