Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan overthrown in a no-confidence vote

Pakistan’s embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted as the country’s head of state after a parliamentary no-confidence vote early on Sunday, as opponents blamed him for a slumping economy and a failure to deliver on campaign promises.

Opposition parties secured 174 votes in the country’s 342-seat lower house – two more than needed – to oust the charismatic cricket star-turned-conservative Islamist politician after many former Khan supporters voted to leave him.

The new government will be formed by an opposition spanning the political spectrum from the left to the radically religious, with the leader of Pakistan’s Muslim League expected to take power.

Shahbaz Sharif, brother of imprisoned former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was due to be appointed interim prime minister by Parliament on Monday. The opposition group has announced that it intends to hold elections in the coming months.

The 1am vote followed a last-minute desperate attempt by Khan to remain in power. Earlier, he produced a document he claims proves US officials conspired to oust him from his post by colluding with his legislative opponents. Khan’s foreign policy decisions routinely appear to favor Russia and China over the US.

Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan
Khan accused the US of removing him from power.
AP Photo/Anjum Naveed

The US State Department has denied interfering in Pakistan’s politics, but false accusations of American collusion are likely among many citizens who have harbored distrust of the US since the aftermath of 9/11, when Washington accused Islamabad of being weak even on terrorism emerged as thousands of Pakistanis were killed by Islamic military.

“Khan’s conspiracy allegations will resonate in a country where there is a tendency to attribute the worst possible motives to U.S. policy, particularly because there is a history of U.S. interference in Pakistani politics,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Wilson Center in Washington.

In an impassioned speech on Friday, Khan claimed his opponents were conspiring with the US in response to his foreign policy decisions. He said the US opposed his February 24 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, hours after he invaded Ukraine.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister and lawmaker Yousuf Raza Gillani flashes victory signs as he arrives on Saturday, May 9th.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister and lawmaker Yousuf Raza Gillani waves victory signs as he arrives to attend the National Assembly session in Islamabad, Pakistan April 9, 2022.
AP Photo/Anjum Naveed

The ousted populist prime minister urged his supporters to take to the streets on Sunday to protest his allegations of US collusion.

“You must come out to protect your own future. They are the ones who must protect your democracy, your sovereignty and your independence. … That is your duty,” he said. “I will not accept imposed government.”

Khan and his supporters had postponed the court-ordered vote for Saturday and blocked the appeal for 14 hours until it was held in Pakistan around midnight.

Khan, who failed to appear at the hearing, was accused of unsportsmanlike conduct by opponents, according to the Wall Street Journal. Few members of Khan’s ruling party were present.

“This man fears losing the game, so he picked up the wickets and ran off the field,” said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, leader of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, ahead of the vote, using a cricket metaphor to get his point across .

However, Fawad Hussain, Khan’s information minister, called it a “sad day for Pakistan”, The Guardian reported.

“The return of the looters and a good man sent home,” said Hussain.

Police officers stand guard to ensure security outside the National Assembly in Islamabad, Pakistan, Saturday April 9, 2022.
Police officers stand guard to ensure security in front of the National Assembly April 9, 2022 in Islamabad, Pakistan.
AP Photo/Anjum Naveed

Khan had come under fire for months for failing to get Pakistan’s rising inflation, external debt and other economic woes under control. Meanwhile, many of his proposed reforms and civic projects failed.

Opposition lawmakers have said their move to replace Khan became possible after the Pakistani military withdrew its support for him. Although the military denies interfering in politics, it is widely believed that it helped bring him to power in 2018. Pakistan has been under direct military rule for most of its 75-year history.

The nuclear power with an arsenal of 165 warheads has traditionally been a US ally, but relations are strained. The US suspended security aid to Khan’s government in 2018 because he was unwilling to act against terrorist groups.

Khan’s no-confidence vote was intended to strengthen the Jamiat-e-Ulema-Islam, or Assembly of Clerics, a radical religious party faction with Taliban ties.

With mail wires Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan overthrown in a no-confidence vote


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