Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan lost a no-confidence vote in parliament after a dramatic week in which he violated the constitution in an attempt to stop the action.
Khan, a former cricket prime minister who has become a pious Islamist politician, has been fighting for his political life for weeks after losing his parliamentary majority.
He received a blow Thursday after Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled he had broken the law by dissolving parliament in a bid to prevent a no-confidence vote he was expected to lose last week.
According to the court’s instructions, the vote finally took place late Saturday night, although not before Khan’s party spent 14 stormy hours trying to postpone it and block it in the National Assembly.
The opposition has accused Khan of trying to hold the constitution and the government hostage and commit treason after his Pakistani party, Tehrik-e-Insaf, tried various means, including filibusters and legal petitions, to try to stop the vote.
The opposition said Khan refused to allow the vote unless he could guarantee that neither he nor his ministers would face criminal charges once they resigned. During his time in power, Khan imprisoned several opposition figures.
As Khan met with ministers and senior military figures on Saturday, many feared he would try to get Pakistan’s powerful army to intervene and declare martial law instead of handing over power to the opposition, returning Pakistan to its former dark days of military intervention in times of political instability. Fears of unrest swirled and security was tightened around the prime minister’s residence.
As concerns about Khan violating the Supreme Court’s ruling grow, the chief judge has taken the unprecedented step of asking the Supreme Court to be ready to open its doors at midnight if the vote does not take place. The Islamabad Supreme Court also prepared to hear a contempt case late last night.
With only 10 minutes left before midnight, the legal deadline for voting, House Speaker Assad Kaiser, an ally of Khan whose role was to cast a no-confidence vote in parliament, resigned, saying he could not take part in another conspiracy to overthrow of the Prime Minister.
Instead, the role of spokesman was transferred to another lawmaker, and in the final moments of Saturday, after reports of military pressure on Khan to either resign or face a no-confidence vote, Khan finally agreed to have his prime minister represented in Parliament, although he left the House of Parliament during the vote.
As expected, without a majority, he lost the no-confidence vote by 174 votes, removing him from power more than a year before his official term expired, making him Pakistan’s first prime minister to be ousted for a no-confidence vote. Fawad Hussein, Khan’s information minister, called it a “sad day for Pakistan”. The return of robbers and a good man sent home.
Khan’s loss led to the formation of a new opposition coalition government, with opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of imprisoned former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as interim prime minister. The opposition has said it intends to hold elections in the next few months, although they are likely to take place in October at the earliest.
Sharif, who will be sworn in as the next prime minister in the coming days, told the Guardian that the opposition has no intention of “taking revenge” on Khan and has no intention of pursuing a policy of hatred and division. Pakistan needs healing and must look forward. “
Sharif says they will give priority to electoral reform with a view to holding general elections “on time”
“The country is in all kinds of confusion, thanks to the epic mismanagement of Imran Khan’s government,” he said. “From paralyzed bureaucracy to foreign policy challenges to a shattered economy, chaos reigns supreme.”
The no-confidence vote last week was tabled by the opposition amid an economic crisis that has shaken Khan’s popularity. Khan shocked the opposition by instructing the vice-president of the House, a close ally, to reject the vote on the grounds that it was the result of a “foreign conspiracy” to remove him from office.
Security guards guard the front of the parliament building in Islamabad on Saturday. Photo: Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty
Khan then instructed the president, another ally, to dissolve parliament and announced that new elections would be held in three months. He defended the move as an attempt to defend Pakistan from a Western-led and US-led conspiracy to interfere in his affairs.
The opposition described it as a “civil coup” and a treacherous attempt by Khan to cling to power, even though he had lost his majority. They appealed to the Supreme Court, which overturned Khan’s decision.
Although many speculated that he could resign instead of facing the humiliation of defeat in parliament, in a late evening address to the country, Khan made it clear that he had no intention of resigning voluntarily.
He called on his supporters to take to the streets in protest and said he would not accept any “imported” government, shrouded in a reference to his previous allegations that the political opposition was plotting with Western powers to overthrow him. which they deny.
“What is happening to our democracy is catastrophic,” Khan said in a speech. Khan, once a national cricket hero and international playboy, was chosen in 2018 as Pakistan’s “modern” face, backed by the military and promised economic prosperity and an end to corruption.
But his tenure was marred by an economic crisis, including record inflation. He was also seen succumbing to militant Islamic groups, and during his rule, religious violence and public lynching of blasphemers increased.
However, Khan is still in fierce command among his supporters and is expected to run in the next election, albeit this time without the tacit support of the military. In a post on Twitter after the Supreme Court ruling, Khan wrote: “My message to our nation is that I always am and will continue to fight for Pak to the last.