Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday faced another blow when a key allied party quit the ruling alliance ahead of a no-confidence motion submitted by the opposition against him.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and allies had 179 seats in the 342-member National Assembly. But the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which has support in urban areas of the southern Sindh province, said its seven lawmakers would vote with the opposition, led by the Pakistan People Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
The decision was formally announced by MQM convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui in a press conference in the capital Islamabad.
A minimum of 172 are seats needed for a simple majority in the lower house.
Meanwhile, two cabinet members, Law Minister Farogh Nasim and Information Technology Minister Syed Ameenul Haq, who belonged to the MQM, tendered their resignations.
Another two allied parties from the southwestern Balochistan province, the Jamhoori Watan Party and Balochistan Awami Party, which jointly have six seats, have already announced their support for the no-confidence motion.
More than a dozen PTI lawmakers have also indicated they will vote against the prime minster, but a court petition has been filed to determine if dissident votes can be declared invalid.
Under the law, parliamentarians who defect could lose their seats if they choose to vote against their party.
Khan, who is expected to address the nation later in the evening, claims that an “international conspiracy” is being hatched to dislodge him.
The cricketer-turned-premier has accused opposition leaders of "toeing a foreign agenda" to topple his government because of his “independent foreign policy."
Voting on the no-confidence motion is expected to be held on April 3, according to Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmad.