Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has recalled for early elections after a stunning by-election upset saw his party take control of a crucial provincial assembly.
Imran Khan’s party won 15 out of 20 seats grabs in Punjab, beating their arch-rivals the PML-N on their home ground.
The result is a foretaste of what could happen in a general election due by October 2023 but which could be sooner.
Imran 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.
Pakistan is reeling from unprecedented inflation and energy shortages – now political instability could spiral out of control.
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.
But Imran Khan has the wind in his sails. He has been attracting thousands of PTI supporters to rallies since he was ousted.