Ally of ex-Pakistani PM Khan sacked as Punjab chief minister
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — In a major political move, Pakistani authorities before dawn Friday removed Pervez Elahi as the top elected official in the country’s populous eastern Punjab province, following his failure to win a vote of confidence from the provincial legislature.
The move was a setback for former Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose Tehreek-e-Insaf party was allied with Elahi in the Punjab Assembly.
A government statement said Punjab governor Balighur Rehman also sacked the provincial Cabinet, citing Elahi’s failure to get the vote of confidence Wednesday, which indicated he did not enjoy the support of the majority of the province’s lawmakers.
Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf quickly rejected the removal of Elahi, saying he was not removed from his office in accordance with the constitution.
The latest development came just days after Khan said his party was quitting Pakistan’s two regional and national assemblies on Friday in an effort to pressure the federal government of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif to agree to early elections. Parliamentary elections are now scheduled to be held in 2023 after Parliament completes its five-year term.
Khan, a former cricket star turned politician, was ousted in a no-confidence vote by Parliament last April. He has been demanding early elections, arguing his ouster was illegal and orchestrated by Sharif, with the U.S. government’s help.
Sharif and Washington have dismissed the allegations, and the current government says the next elections will be held as scheduled next year.
Khan and his allies have had control in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab province, where Elahi was chief minister until his removal. Elahi is expected to try to challenge his removal in court.