Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing a vote of no confidence which is expected to force him from office.

But as Secunder Kermani of the BBC reports, it's unlikely to be the end of his political career.

At his barber shop in a middle-class neighbourhood in Islamabad, 32-year-old Mujahid Ali, dressed in a beige, traditional shalwar kameez, won't be sorry to see Imran Khan ousted from office.

"I haven't enjoyed his time,"BBC quoted him saying..

The former cricketer turned politician won in this constituency in 2018. Mujahid voted for him, hoping he could deliver change as a new, third force in Pakistan's politics, which has long been dominated by two rival established political dynasties. But now he blames Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party for the rising cost of living.

"You work all day and earn 500 rupees ($2.70; £2.06)," he tells the BBC. "But now a kilogram of butter costs 500 rupees. Before it was 180."

Khan's likely replacement as prime minister would be Shehbaz Sharif.

His brother is Nawaz Sharif, a three-time serving prime minister now convicted on corruption charges which he has always regarded as politically motivated.

Shehbaz too has faced allegations, which he denies, but Mujahid says that doesn't put him off: "They might be corrupt, but at least they help poor people."

The rising cost of living is a complaint of nearly all the voters BBC spoke to in their report.

The truth is, price rises have been significantly sharper in Pakistan than in most of its neighbours.

Yet however disgruntled many may be with policies, the move to oust him is not based on a sudden wave of popular sentiment. It's down to elite political manoeuvring.

Imran Khan is widely regarded as having come to power with the help of Pakistan's army, but now observers say they have fallen out.

His political opponents are seizing the opportunity to strike whilst he's weak, persuading a number of his coalition partners to defect to them.

Imran has a different, more outlandish explanation for his political troubles.

He says he's the victim of an international conspiracy attempting to bring about "regime change" in Pakistan.

He claims US officials warned Pakistani diplomats he would need to be removed from power because of his foreign policy decisions, such as recently visiting Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin and his previous criticism of America's "War on Terror". Opposition politicians ridicule the allegation, and the US has denied there is any truth to it.

Imran claims he's the victim of an international conspiracy attempting to bring about "regime change" in Pakistan

It appears that he is attempting to build a populist, anti-Western narrative and many of his most ardent followers appear to be buying into it.

When talk turns to the Pakistani military's stance on Imran Khan and whether they're really responsible for his change in fortunes, there's a slight hesitation amongst the group at the restaurant.

Until recently, he proudly proclaimed he and the army were on "the same page," and many of his followers view themselves as "patriots" who firmly back the military.

No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed their full five-year term, and it looks likely Mr Khan won't either.

However, whilst the poor state of the economy has undoubtedly diminished his popularity, Imran Khan looks set to remain a formidable force in the country's politics.

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts