On Saturday, Pakistan’s parliament adjourned, delaying a no-confidence move that might force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign, just days after his allies vetoed a similar measure.
Speaker Asad Qaisar announced that lawmakers will reassemble at 12:30 p.m. (0730 GMT).
Khan appeared to be on the verge of being forced out of government by a no-confidence vote in parliament on Saturday, but the political situation in the nuclear-armed nation of 220 million people is sure to worsen.
Defections by coalition partners and members of Khan’s own Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) cost him his majority in the 342-seat national assembly, and the opposition only needs 172 votes to oust him.
Saturday’s schedule does not include a vote for a new prime minister, but that might change, and Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leader Shehbaz Sharif has been named as the anointed candidate.
But whomever succeeds Khan will have to cope with the same problems he did: rising inflation, a weak rupee, and debilitating debt.
Militancy is also on the rise, with Pakistan’s Taliban emboldened by the Taliban’s return to power in neighboring Afghanistan last year.
Khan, 69, claimed late Friday that he had accepted a Supreme Court verdict ordering the no-confidence vote, but that he was the victim of a US-led “regime change” plot.
The former international cricketer stated that he would not work with any new administration and urged his fans to march to the streets in protest.
Thousands of police officers were deployed on the streets Saturday, and a ring of steel containers was set up to block entry to the government enclave.
After the deputy speaker of the national assembly – a loyalist — declined to allow an earlier no-confidence vote because of “foreign meddling,” the Supreme Court declared Thursday that Khan acted illegally by dissolving parliament and ordering fresh elections.
Khan said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), two traditionally fighting dynastic groupings, collaborated with Washington to initiate the no-confidence vote because of his opposition to US foreign policy, particularly in Muslim countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.
He also accused the opposition of purchasing support in the assembly by “open horse-trading… sale of members like goats and animals” in reference to the defections.
“I was upset by the Supreme Court’s judgment,” he continued, “but I want to be clear that I respect the Supreme Court and Pakistan’s judiciary.”
“There is an international conspiracy,” Khan remarked. “This is a grave charge… that a foreign country plotted to overthrow a whole government.”
The US government has denied any involvement.
It’s also anyone’s guess how long the new government will endure.
The opposition had previously stated that they sought an early election — which must be held by October next year — but assuming power allows them to set their own agenda and put an end to a series of probes they claim Khan began in retaliation for their criticism.
According to local media, an election commission official stated that preparing for a nationwide election would take at least seven months.
For much of Pakistan’s 75-year history, political crises have plagued the country, and no prime minister has ever served a complete term.
Although the military appears to be staying out of the current conflict, there have been four coups since the country’s independence in 1947, and the country has been ruled by the army for more than three decades.