After days of high political drama, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted from power on Sunday when he lost a vote of confidence in Parliament, a long way off from completing his five-year term.
Sunday’s vote followed multiple adjournments in the chamber, called due to lengthy speeches by members of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, who said there was a “foreign conspiracy” to oust the cricket star-turned-politician.
The no-trust vote was mandated after Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down the ruling by Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri on the rejection of the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan.
The National Assembly convened for the no-trust motion at 10.30 AM (Pakistan time) on Saturday but the proceedings were delayed multiple times. The voting began at 11.58 PM on Saturday and continued past midnight.
Moments before the voting started, Speaker Asad Qaiser and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri tendered their resignation. Opposition party leader Ayaz Sadiq was asked to take over the assembly session.
While Imran Khan chose to remain absent during the vote, his party lawmakers staged a walkout.
Opposition parties, whose ranks were strengthened by defections from the ruling PTI-led coalition, were able to secure 174 votes in the 342-member House in support of the no-confidence motion, making it a majority vote.
With this, Khan became the first sitting prime minister in the history of Pakistan to be removed from office through a no-confidence motion.
Even before his government lost the no-trust vote in the National Assembly, Khan vacated the PM’s residence.
After Imran Khan’s removal, Pakistan’s Attorney General Khalid Javed resigned from his post. In a letter to President Arif Alvi, he stated that he had tried to serve the country to the best of his ability and conscience.
With Imran Khan’s departure as Pakistan PM, the stage is clear for Leader of the Opposition and Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif to be the country’s next prime minister.
Candidates for Pakistan’s next prime minister are due to file nomination papers on Sunday, with the election taking place when the National Assembly reconvenes at 2 PM on Monday. Leader of Opposition and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Shehbaz Sharif is being touted as the frontrunner for the top post.
While Khan has not commented publicly on his ouster, his PTI party has called for nationwide “peaceful protests” on Sunday. In an address to the nation on Friday, a defiant Khan said he would not accept an “imported government” and called on people to hit the streets.
On Sunday, the Islamabad High Court accepted a petition seeking an inquiry into the alleged letter used by Imran Khan and his party to claim the involvement of a foreign power to topple the Pakistan government in collusion with Opposition parties. The matter will be heard on Monday.
Parliamentary elections are not due until August 2023. However, the Opposition has said it wants early elections, but only after it delivered a political defeat to Khan and passes legislation it says is required to ensure the next polls are free and fair.