Pakistan’s president Arif-ur-Rehman Alvi has dissolved parliament – a step towards a snap election – after a campaign to impeach Prime Minister Imran Khan.
It comes after the Deputy Speaker of Parliament refused to hold a vote of no confidence which the Prime Minister was set to lose.
Mr Khan claims the US is leading a plot to impeach him for his criticism of US policy and other foreign policy decisions he has made.
Opposition politicians ridicule the allegation, and the United States has denied it.
Imran Khan was visiting Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin just as Russia was launching the invasion of Ukraine. He has previously criticized the United States’ “war on terror”.
According to reports from Pakistan, the prime minister is widely believed to have come to power with the help of Pakistan’s military, but observers now say they disagree.
His political opponents took the opportunity to call for a vote of no confidence after convincing some of his coalition partners to defect.
On Sunday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told lawmakers that “a regime change operation by a foreign government” had been reported to Pakistani officials.
It was unconstitutional, and the vice-president presiding over the session – a close ally of the Prime Minister – declared the vote unconstitutional.
The opposition is angry.
They have filed a petition with the country’s Supreme Court, which is reviewing whether the decision not to grant a vote of no confidence to the Prime Minister is valid.
Heavy security forces were deployed around government buildings and throughout the capital, Islamabad.