LAHORE: A key ally of Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan was removed today as chief minister of the country’s largest province, dealing a blow to Khan’s plans to force snap polls in the South Asian nation.
The move will deepen political instability in Pakistan which is in economic meltdown with a severe balance of payment crises.
Punjab governor Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman, an appointee of Khan’s opponent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, issued an order today to remove Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.
Rehman said he acted on Elahi’s failure to seek a vote of confidence, which was mandatory after the governor officially asked him to do that.
“I am satisfied that he doesn’t command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Punjab assembly, and therefore ceases to hold his office with immediate effect,” Rehman’s order seen by Reuters said.
The cabinet in Pakistan’s biggest province Punjab was also dissolved, it said.
Rehman confirmed the orders in a tweet.
Elahi will, however, continue until his replacement is appointed, the governor’s order said.
The sacked chief minister has challenged the removal in the High Court, his party spokesman Musarrat Cheema told Reuters.
Khan last week announced that he would seek to dissolve two provincial governments run by his party and coalition partners.
Once that is done, he had said his party would also resign from the federal parliament that is run by a unity government which consists of his opposition parties.
That scenario would have vacated over 60% of the parliamentary seats to make Khan’s snap polls case stronger.
Khan has been demanding snap polls since he was ousted in April after he lost a parliament’s vote of confidence, and led countrywide rallies to mount pressure on the government.
At one of these rallies, Khan was shot at and wounded.
Sharif’s unity government has rejected the demand, reiterating repeatedly that the elections will be held as scheduled later 2023.