Home World News Imran Khan saves himself at the cost of a political crisis

Imran Khan saves himself at the cost of a political crisis


The decision surprised most of those present in Parliament on Sunday morning April 3. Barely half an hour after the start of the session, the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly announced the cancellation of the vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Imran Khan. Immediately, supporters of the PTI, the Prime Minister’s party, rushed to the stage chanting, fists in the air: “Imran Khan is our pride! » In front of them, members of the opposition disappointed and nailed to their chairs, already trying to find a way to counter this decision.

→ CONTEXT. The Pakistani military in the shadow of Imran Khan

A few minutes earlier, the Minister of Information, Fawad Chaudhry, white shirt, black jacket and determined tone, affirmed before Parliament that this vote of no confidence was “an operation for regime change led by a foreign government”. The cries of PTI supporters (“Anyone who is a friend of the United States is a traitor! “) left no doubt about the identity of the “foreign power” incriminated. A conspiracy theory relayed by the Prime Minister himself for several weeks already.

The road to populism

At the heart of this crisis, promises deemed unkept. While his 2018 campaign was based on the fight against corruption and the recovery of the economy, four years later, with growing inflation, a weakened economy and sometimes criticized Covid management, the head of government is going through his most great political crisis.

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But while some had already buried him politically, Imran Khan seems to have chosen a winding trajectory to hold on to power. By claiming to have proof that an external force wants his downfall, the Pakistani Prime Minister is in line with leaders who choose the path of populism.

“Imran Khan is a populist nationalist leader who has always played this card of savior of Islam in danger” explains Amélie Blom, research professor at Sciences Po Lyon and at the Triangle laboratory. His criticism of the West, which he considers morally corrupt, also embarrasses those who really hold power: the army. “His posture collides with the strategic objectives of the army whose priority in international politics is to seek to improve its relations with the European Union and the United States”, details Amélie Blom.

“Losing Your Head Up”

Everything was shaping up well for the former international cricket star and heartbreaker in the West. By creating the PTI party, the Pakistan Movement for Justice, in 1996, Imran Khan intended to reach the top. The beginnings were difficult, he won only one seat in the Assembly during the elections of 1997 and 2002. But the party grew and made itself known in particular by advocating the fight against corruption.

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Imran Khan does not seem able to escape the fate reserved for all his predecessors who were unable to complete their five-year term. The Prime Minister called on Sunday for the dissolution of the Assembly and elections should take place within three months. According to Amélie Blom, it is unlikely that the PTI will emerge as a winner, but by choosing this option, “Imran Khan shows that if he has to fall, he will do it with his head held high by fighting until the end”. With an increasingly unpopular Prime Minister, deprived of the support of the army, Pakistan risks finding itself confronted in the medium term with a new period of political instability.

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