Imran Khan demands early elections after dominating Punjab poll

Imran Khan demands early elections after dominating Punjab poll

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has renewed his call for early elections after a stunning by-election upset saw his party take control of a crucial provincial assembly.

His PTI party won 15 of 20 seats up for grabs in Punjab, beating their arch-rivals the PML-N on their home ground, as voters vented their fury over spiralling living costs.

The result is a foretaste of what could happen in a general election due by October 2023 but which could be sooner.

Mr Khan was ousted as prime minister in a no-confidence vote in April.

The result in Punjab is a major blow for current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who leads the PML-N. His already weak coalition government’s fate now hangs by a thread. Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, has long been a bastion of support for the PML-N of Mr Sharif, and his older brother, three-time former PM Nawaz Sharif. But the party won just four of the seats in Sunday’s by-elections, with one going to an independent candidate.

The by-elections were called after MPs from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were disqualified for switching allegiance in a vote to elect Mr Sharif’s son Hamza as Punjab chief minister. His short term in office now looks set to end.