Pakistan’s lower house of parliament on Sunday voted in favour of removing Prime Minister Imran Khan from office, following a nearly 14-hour standoff between the opposition and Khan’s ruling party that started on Saturday morning.
Opposition parties were able to secure 174 votes in the 342-member house in support of the no-confidence 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 vote means Khan will no longer hold office and the country’s lower house will now elect a new prime minister and government.
The combined opposition that spans the political spectrum from the left to the religious will form the new government, with the head of one of the largest parties, the Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz, taking over as prime minister.
Anticipating his loss, Khan, who charged that the opposition colluded with the United States to unseat him, on Friday called on his supporters to stage rallies nationwide on Sunday. In an impassioned speech, Khan doubled down on his accusations that his opponents colluded with the US to unseat him over his foreign policy choices, which often seemed to favour China and Russia. Khan said Washington opposed his February 24 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin hours after tanks rolled into Ukraine.
Khan’s options are limited and should he see a big turnout in his support in today’s protests, he may try to keep the momentum as a way to pressure parliament to hold early elections. Khan earlier had tried to sidestep the vote by dissolving parliament and calling early elections but a Supreme Court ruling ordered the vote to go ahead. In a brief exchange in parliament on Saturday morning, opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif warned against delays. Sharif is a likely candidate for the prime minister post. The opposition introduced the motion last month, accusing the prime minister of economic mismanagement that has driven up prices and interest rates. Khan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, meanwhile, demanded an investigation into ruling party allegations that the no-confidence vote was a ploy by the opposition and America to unseat Khan, who was not present.
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