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Pakistan PM Khan indicates he might refuse vote to oust him

Leader accuses U.S. of 'regime change' plot ahead of no-confidence measure

Supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, carry signs as they chant slogans accusing the U.S. of plotting to overthrow Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, during a protest in Islamabad.   © Reuters

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan suggested on Saturday that he might not accept a vote to oust him, a move he alleged was being orchestrated by the U.S.

Opposition parties say Khan has failed to revive an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic or fulfill promises to make his government more transparent and accountable, and have put forward a no-confidence motion to be put to a vote on Sunday.

"How can I accept the result when the entire process is discredited?" Khan told a select group of foreign journalists at his office. "Democracy functions on moral authority -- what moral authority is left after this connivance?"

"The move to oust me is blatant interference in domestic politics by the United States," he said, terming it an attempt at "regime change."

Khan has already lost his parliamentary majority after key allies quit his coalition government and joined the opposition.

Hours before he spoke, the head of the army, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, had said Pakistan wanted to expand its ties with Washington.

U.S. President Joe Biden has not called Khan since taking office, but the White House has denied that it is seeking to topple him. 

Bajwa told a security conference in Islamabad that "we share a long history of excellent and strategic relationship with the United States, which remains our largest export market."

He noted Pakistan had long enjoyed close diplomatic and business relationships with China, but added, "We seek to expand and broaden our ties with both countries without impacting our relations with the other."

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