Pakistan’s most powerful opposition group hinted Tuesday that it would not back a no-confidence vote against the prime minister—a stance that could save the government of this nuclear-armed nation from toppling.
The possibility of government collapse is the latest crisis facing Pakistan as it grapples with a foundering economy, relentless militant attacks and U.S. demands to help turn around the war in Afghanistan.
The ruling coalition’s future was thrown into doubt Sunday after the second-largest member of the coalition, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, joined the opposition, depriving the government of a parliamentary majority.
On Tuesday, senior members of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, the leading opposition group, wouldn’t say where they stood on a no-confidence vote before they convened in Islamabad to decide. But officials suggested they would not move against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
“Our aim is not to overthrow this government, but if it collapses, it will collapse because of its own incompetence and bad governance,” said PML-N spokesman Sadiqul Farooq.
Gilani could rule with a minority coalition but would have to step down if he lost a no-confidence vote. Parliament could then vote on an alternative candidate or possibly move toward early elections.