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Supporters of former Pakistani PM Imran Khan's block a Peshawar motorway toll plaza after he was disqualified from holding public office.

Hussain Ali/Pacific Press/Sipa via Reuters Connect

Crisistan: Pakistan’s three-way political poker game

Always on the brink, Pakistan is in crisis mode. Former PM Imran Khan, the cricket hero-turned-born again Muslim populist firebrand, was disqualified Friday from holding public office. Meanwhile, his deputies are being arrested, recorded conversations are being leaked to damage his credibility, and his supporters are being threatened with legal action.

But nothing’s working to stop the Khan juggernaut. And the country, strapped for cash and still reeling from catastrophic flooding, is headed toward further political turmoil.

As protests spring up in his support, the “Kaptaan” — Captain, as Khan is known for his athletic accolades and lead-from-the-front style of politicking — is threatening to launch a movement of civil disobedience by marching toward the capital of the world’s fifth-most populous nation and only nuclear-armed Islamic republic.

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Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan travels on a vehicle to lead a protest march in Islamabad, Pakistan.
REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

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Former Pakistani PM charged under terror act

A Pakistani judge charged Monday former ousted PM Imran Khan with violating the anti-terror act for threatening judicial officers in a speech. Khan has been granted bail, but he could face several years in prison if he's convicted of the terror charge. Since he was removed in a no-confidence vote in April, the former PM has been touring the country, leading huge rallies trying to pressure the government into calling a snap election. Khan is plotting his comeback boosted by his resurgent popularity, which helped his party win a recent election in Punjab, the country's most populous province. The turmoil comes at the worst possible time for Pakistan, embroiled in a severe economic crisis: poor Pakistanis are suffering the most from double-digit inflation, and the country is on the brink of default on its sovereign debt. Khan's supporters have warned they'll march on Islamabad if he's arrested, so keep an eye out for Thursday, when the former PM is scheduled to appear before the judge. Meanwhile, he's been banned from speaking in public and his speeches removed from YouTube.

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