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.