Pakistan’s troubled prime minister has been ousted after a no-confidence vote

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s political opposition ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan in a no-confidence vote in parliament early Sunday after several political allies and a key party in his ruling coalition left.

The opposition, which spans the political spectrum from left to religious radicals, will form a new government. The leader of one of the largest parties, the brother of disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is likely to take over as prime minister if confirmed in a vote Monday.

Awaiting his loss, Khan, who accused the opposition of colluding with the United States to oust him, called on his supporters to hold rallies across the country on Sunday. However, Khan’s capabilities are limited. If he sees high turnout in his support, he may try to keep the momentum of street protests as a way to put pressure on parliament to hold early elections.

Khan had previously tried to circumvent the vote by dissolving parliament and calling early elections, but a Supreme Court ruling ordered the vote to continue.


The vote comes amid a cooling of relations between Khan and Pakistan’s powerful army, which many of his political opponents say helped him come to power in the 2018 general election. The military directly rules Pakistan for more than half of its 75 years and have considerable power over civilian governments.

Seeking the overthrow of Khan, the opposition accused him of mismanagement of the economy as inflation rose and the value of the Pakistani rupee fell. The vote ended months of political turmoil and a constitutional crisis that forced the Supreme Court to intervene.

In a passionate speech Friday, Khan doubled accusations that his opponents had conspired with the United States to oust him from his foreign policy elections, which often seemed in favor of China and Russia and opposed the United States.

Khan said Washington opposed his February 24 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. The meeting took place hours after Russian tanks entered Ukraine, waging a devastating war in the heart of Europe.


Prior to the vote, a member of Khan’s cabinet cited an earlier statement by Khan that a senior US official had told Pakistani diplomats in Washington that relations would improve if Khan was ousted.

Human Rights Minister Shirin Mazari told parliament that the US official’s alleged remark said “everything will be forgiven” if Khan is out of power. She continued to ask, “Forgiven for what? What is our sin?

The US State Department has denied any involvement in Pakistan’s domestic policy. Deputy State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters on Friday that “there is absolutely no truth in these allegations.”

However, Khan called on his supporters to take to the streets, especially young people who are the backbone of his support, after the former cricket star, who became a conservative Islamist politician, came to power in 2018. He said they must defend sovereignty of Pakistan and to oppose the alleged US dictates.


“You have to go out to protect your own future. You are the ones who must defend your democracy, your sovereignty and your independence. … It is your duty, “he said. “I will not accept an imposed government.

Khan’s claims of US involvement are likely to resonate with many in Pakistan, said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Washington-based Wilson Center.

“Khan’s conspiracy accusations will resonate in a country that tends to attribute the worst possible motives to US policy, especially because there is a past history of US interference in Pakistani politics,” Kugelman said.

Khan’s claims of US involvement in attempts to oust him also use deep-seated distrust among many in Pakistan in US intentions, especially after 9/11.

Washington has often rebuked Pakistan for doing too little to fight Islamic extremists, even though thousands of Pakistanis have died at their hands and the army has lost more than 5,000 troops. Pakistan has been accused of aiding Afghan Taliban insurgents while being asked to bring them to the peace table.


The loss of a no-confidence vote for Khan brought some unlikely partners to power.

Among them is a radical religious party that runs dozens of religious schools. Jamiat-e-Ulema-Islam, or the Assembly of Clergy, teaches a deeply conservative brand of Islam in its schools. Many of the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan’s own violent Taliban have graduated from JUI schools.

The largest opposition parties – the Pakistan People’s Party, led by the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and the Pakistani Muslim League – have been tainted by allegations of widespread corruption.

The leader of the Pakistani Muslim League and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been convicted of corruption after being named in so-called Panama documents. This is a collection of leaked secret financial documents showing how some of the richest people in the world are hiding their money and include a global law firm based in Panama. Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan from holding office. The new prime minister is expected to be Sharif Shahbaz Sharif’s brother, after a vote on the new prime minister in parliament on Monday.


“This will be the first time in Pakistan’s history that a no-confidence vote has ousted the prime minister – a constitutional process that was far from guaranteed after Khan’s attempts to thwart the vote,” said Elizabeth Trekeld, a Pakistan-based expert. in the United States The Stimson Center. “This in itself is important and can give Pakistan something to build on.


Matthew Lee of Washington contributed to this report. Follow Katie Gannon on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Kathygannon

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Pakistan’s troubled prime minister has been ousted after a no-confidence vote

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