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Monday, June 5, 2023

Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan Loses Confidence Vote

Finally, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was removed by a no-confidence vote in parliament, just days after he successfully thwarted a similar attempt.

The resolution was passed on Saturday after the country’s Supreme Court determined that the cricketer-turned-politician had acted unconstitutionally by obstructing the process and dissolving parliament earlier in the week. 174 legislators backed the no-confidence resolution, which needed 172 votes in the 342-seat parliament to pass.

In the country’s 75-year history, no Pakistani prime minister has ever served a full five-year tenure.

Pakistan's PMs
Photo Credit: Businesstoday.in
Pakistan's PM
Photo Credit: Businesstoday.in

Imran Khan, who claims the opposition cooperated with the US to unseat him, urged his followers to hold protests around the country on Sunday, anticipating his loss.

Khan’s alternatives are limited, and if he sees a large turnout in his favor, he may try to keep the street protests going in order to persuade parliament to schedule early elections.

Khan attempted to avoid the vote by dissolving parliament and seeking early elections, but the vote was upheld by the Supreme Court.

“We will not seek retaliation.” In a post-election statement, Pakistan opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif declared, “We would not put anyone in jail, but the law will take its course.”

Sharif, the younger brother of former three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is largely likely to succeed Khan on Sunday or Monday. Khan became Pakistan’s first prime minister to be deposed by a vote of no confidence, the country’s only constitutional method of removing the government’s leader.

Imran Khan, 69, came to power in 2018 with the support of the military, but he recently lost his legislative majority after friends left his coalition government.

Opposition parties claim he has failed to revitalize Pakistan’s economy, which has been pummeled by COVID-19 and to keep promises to make the country corruption-free.

Earlier, lower house Speaker Asad Qaisar, a member of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, announced his resignation after adjourning the house three times on Saturday, adding to the drama in the chamber.

“The interests of the country must come first,” he stated.

Whoever succeeds Khan as Pakistan’s prime minister would inherit the same problems that plagued Khan.

The future administration’s agenda will be dominated by a dismal economy, armed group attacks, and uncertain relations with previous allies.

Professor Jaffar Ahmed, director of the Institute of Historical and Social Research, said the future government will have “many challenges on domestic and foreign relations levels.”

The combination of crippling debt, soaring inflation, and a weak currency have kept GDP at a standstill for the past three years, with little chance of true change.

“We don’t know where we’re going,” said Nadeem ul Haque, vice-chancellor of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics in Islamabad.

“To bring the economy around, radical policy measures are required.”

No confidence vote in Pakistan
Photo Credit: Dawn.com

‘Repair the harm’

Khan claimed that the US conspired with the opposition to remove him and that the new government will have to work hard to repair relations with Washington, which is a major armaments supplier.

The United States has denied any connection.

Khan enraged the West by continuing his visit to Moscow on the day Russia invaded Ukraine, and by becoming one of the few foreign leaders to attend the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics while others boycotted due to China’s human rights record.

Nonetheless, army leader General Qamar Javed Bajwa allayed some anxieties this weekend by stressing that strong relations with the United States remain a top priority for Pakistan — and that the military has enormous authority regardless of who is in office.

“The incoming government… must work hard to repair the damage,” said political expert Tauseef Ahmed Khan.

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