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Pakistan PM Imran Khan loses no-confidence vote

April 9, 2022

Pakistan's lawmakers have voted to remove Prime Minister Imran Khan from office in a vote of no confidence. The nuclear-armed Islamic nation has been in political turmoil for weeks.

Pakistani PM Imran Khan
Khan was accused by his detractors of economic mismanagement and foreign-policy mistakesImage: Saiyna Bashir/REUTERS

Pakistan's lawmakers on Saturday voted to boot Prime Minister Imran Khan from office in a motion of no confidence, days after he blocked a similar attempt by having the parliament dissolved and calling for fresh elections.

Opposition parties were able to secure 174 votes in the 342-member National Assembly in support of the motion, the house speaker said, making it a majority vote.

There were just a few legislators of Khan's ruling party present for the process.

The result means Khan will no longer hold office and the Assembly members will now elect a new prime minister and government.

Shehbaz Sharif tipped for top job

Ayaz Sadiq, a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, said the lower house will convene on Monday to vote for a new prime minister.

Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif — the brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — is almost certain to fill the vacancy.

Shehbaz Sharif thanked all the opposition leaders after the vote and promised that his new administration, if confirmed, would look forward.

"This alliance will rebuild Pakistan and we will not indulge in the political victimization of the opponents," he said.

"I don't want to discuss the bitterness of the past. We want to forget them and move forward. We will not take revenge or do an injustice; we will not send people to jail for no reason. Law and justice will take their own course," Sharif added.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was prime minister for 9 months from August 2017, told DW that the vote was "an unprecedented victory for democracy and the constitution. We thanked the judiciary and politicians who stood against the unconstitutional act of Khan's cruel regime."

Speaker quits over no-confidence vote

Minutes before voting began, speaker Asad Qaiser resigned from his post, adding to the dramatic events of the past few days.

Saturday's vote came after the nation's Supreme Court dealt a blow to Khan by ruling that the dissolution of the legislature last week was illegal, and that the parliament must be reconvened.

Khan said late Friday he was disappointed by the court ruling but accepted it.

He insisted he was a victim of a "regime change" conspiracy involving the United States. Khan also called on his supporters to take to the streets on Sunday and peacefully protest against an "imported government."

"I'm ready for a struggle," Khan said.

The US has denied any involvement in Pakistan's internal politics.

A new round of political instability

Khan had lost his parliamentary majority recently after allies in his coalition government switched allegiance and joined the opposition.

Khan's ouster triggers a new round of political instability in the nuclear-armed South Asian nation, which has a history of military intervention in politics.

There have been four military coups since Pakistan emerged as an independent nation in 1947, and the country has spent more than three decades overall under army rule. 

'Pakistan's constitutional crisis is spiraling out of control': Shamil Shams

Khan — a polarizing figure

Khan, 69, came to power in 2018, promising sweeping reforms to eliminate corruption and cronyism. But he was accused by his detractors of economic mismanagement and foreign-policy mistakes.

Skyrocketing inflation, rising unemployment, a weak currency and a heavy debt burden also hurt his popularity.

While Khan's supporters viewed him as the last hope for Pakistani politics, opponents chastised him for his willingness to accommodate Islamists and antagonize the West. 

Many believe that he was backed by Pakistan's right-wing groups and the military establishment — claims both Khan and the military deny — because of his pacifist stance on the Taliban and other Islamist militants.

mm, sri/aw (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)