Imran Khan unsuccessfully tried to dissolve parliament to retain power
Pakistani PM loses no-confidence vote
Published: Apr 10, 2022 04:33 PM
Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan  Photo: Courtesy of Embassy of Pakistan in Beijing

Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan Photo: Courtesy of Embassy of Pakistan in Beijing

The no-confidence motion filed by an opposition alliance against Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan succeeded early Sunday morning, as 174 members of the National Assembly voted against him, said an official.

A new premier will be chosen Monday, with Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) chief Shehbaz Sharif almost certain to be picked to lead the nuclear-armed nation of 220 million people.

No prime minister has ever served a full term in Pakistan, but Khan is the first to lose office this way.

Opposition supporters took to the streets early Sunday, waving national and party flags from car windows as they raced through the streets.

There had been a massive security presence in the capital, but no incidents were reported.

Acting speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said 174 lawmakers had voted in favor of the motion, "consequently the vote of no confidence has passed."

Khan, 69, who was not present, lost his majority in the 342-seat assembly through defections by coalition partners and even members of his own party, and the opposition had needed just 172 votes to dismiss him.

He tried everything to stay in power - including dissolving parliament and calling a fresh election - but the Supreme Court deemed all his actions illegal last week, and ordered the assembly to reconvene and vote. There was drama right until the midnight deadline ordered by the Supreme Court, with the speaker of the assembly - a Khan loyalist - resigning at the last minute.?

In the end, the session continued through to Sunday with a replacement.

"We will put a balm on the wounds of this nation," Sharif said immediately after the result was announced.

Whoever takes over will still have to deal with the issues that bedevilled Khan: soaring inflation, a feeble rupee and crippling debt.

Militancy is also on the rise, with Pakistan's Taliban emboldened by the return to power of the hard-line Islamist group in neighboring Afghanistan in 2022.

Tempers rose in the assembly when Sharif insisted a vote be held immediately - as ordered by the Supreme Court on Thursday - but Khan Loyalists demanded discussion first on their leader's claims that there had been foreign interference in the process.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi accused the opposition of leading the country down a dangerous path.

"History will expose all those, who set the stage for this move to topple the government," he said, to chants of "vote, vote" from the opposition.

Khan insists he has been the victim of a "regime change" conspiracy involving the United States.

He said the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party had conspired with Washington to bring the no-confidence vote because of his opposition to US foreign policy, particularly in Muslim nations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

How long the next government lasts is also a matter of speculation.