© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A shop owner adjusts a television screen to watch Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech at his store in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 31, 2022. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
By Asif Shahzad and Syed Raza Hassan
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted on Sunday as he lost a vote of confidence in parliament, after being dumped by coalition partners who blamed him for the economy. economic collapse and failed to deliver on his campaign promises.
The results of the vote, which was the culmination of a 13-hour session that included multiple delays, were announced shortly before 01:00 (2000 GMT on Saturday) by the speaker of the lower house, Ayaz Sadiq.
Khan, 69, was ousted after 3-1/2 years as leader of the nuclear-armed country of 220 million people, where the military has ruled for nearly half of its nearly 75-year history .
Parliament will meet on Monday to elect a new prime minister.
Sunday’s vote followed several postponements in the room, called off by lengthy speeches by members of Khan’s party, who said there was a US plot to overthrow the politician. famous of cricket.
Sadiq said opposition parties were able to win 174 votes in the 342-member house to support the no-confidence movement.
“Therefore, the petition against Prime Minister Imran Khan has been passed,” he said to the sound of a table in the room. Khan, who was not present for the vote, was not immediately available for comment.
Only a handful of lawmakers from Khan’s ruling party – Tehreek-i-Insaf, or the Pakistani Justice Movement – were present to vote.
The House of Commons voted after the country’s powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa met with Khan, said two unnamed sources, because of increased criticism of the delay in the progress of the country’s military. Congress.
Pakistan’s predecessor and next prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, said Khan’s ouster was an opportunity for a fresh start.
“A new dawn has begun… This coalition will rebuild Pakistan,” Sharif, 70, told parliament.
Sharif, younger brother of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is known as an effective administrator.
Parliamentary elections will take place until August 2023. The opposition, however, has said it wants early elections, but only after they lose politically to Khan and pass legislation they say is necessary to ensure that follow-up polls are free and fair.
Khan’s overthrow prolongs Pakistan’s incredible record of political instability: no prime minister has completed a full term since independence from Britain in 1947, although Khan was the first to be removed. passed a vote of no confidence. (PICTURE: https://tmsnrt.rs/3JsJaU2)
He came to power in 2018 with the support of the military, but recently lost his parliamentary majority as allies left Khan’s coalition government. There are also signs that he has lost the support of the military, analysts say.
MILITARY SOURCE ON KHAN
The military saw Khan and his conservative agenda in favor when he won the election, but that support waned after the defeat because of the appointment of the country’s next chief spy and economic troubles. economic.
“They (the military) don’t want to be seen as supporting him and blamed for his failures,” opposition leader and former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told Reuters earlier. “They pulled their support.”
Opposition parties say he has failed to revive an economy ravaged by COVID-19 or deliver on his promise to make Pakistan a prosperous, corruption-free nation respected on the world stage.
Reema Omar, South Asia legal adviser to the International Commission of Jurists, said it was the end of Khan’s term. On Twitter (NYSE:), she posted, “3.5 years marked by incompetence; harsh censorship; attacks on independent judges; political repression; polarization and bitter divisions ; and finally the blatant subversion of the Constitution.”
Khan’s allies last week blocked the no-confidence movement and dissolved the lower house of parliament, prompting the country’s Supreme Court to step in and allow the vote to pass.
Khan previously accused the United States of backing moves to overthrow him because he visited Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin shortly after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Washington denies the accusations. .
Muhammad Ali Khan, a lawmaker from Khan’s party, said the prime minister had fought to the end and would return to lead parliament in the future.
Prime Minister Khan has been hostile to the United States throughout his term, welcoming the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan last year and calling on the international community to work with them.