Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was on Sunday ousted from office after he lost a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly, Dawn reported.
A total of 174 members in the 342-member House voted in favour of the no-trust vote, two more than the required number of 172. Earlier, the House witnessed acrimonious proceedings and multiple adjournments.
Most members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf walked out of the Assembly in protest. However, dissident members of the party remained present and sat on government benches, according to the Press Trust of India.
The vote in the National Assembly took place after Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa held a meeting with Khan, Reuters reported, citing two unidentified officials. BBC Urdu reported that the meeting took place after a failed attempt by Khan to replace Bajwa.
However, the Inter-Services Public Relations, media wing of Pakistan’s armed forces has rejected BBC Urdu’s report. The media body has said it was holding discussions on the content of the report with the broadcaster, according to Dawn.
“There is no truth in the fake story whatsoever and clearly seems part of an organised disinformation campaign,” the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement.
The military has ruled Pakistan for nearly half of its history and is perceived to have a major influence on politics even during periods of civilian rule.
On Saturday night, a prisoner van was stationed outside the National Assembly amid speculation that the Speaker Asad Qaiser and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri may be arrested if the vote was not held by midnight.
With the defeat in the no-confidence motion, Khan has become the first prime minister in Pakistan’s history to have been ousted through a no-confidence motion. Earlier, Shaukat Aziz (2006) and Benazir Bhutto (1989) had survived no-trust votes against them.
No Pakistani prime minister has completed a full five-year term since the country became independent in 1947.
A sitting of the National Assembly will be held at 2 pm on April 11 to elect the new prime minister. Earlier, the sitting was slated to be held at 11 am on Monday.
After the trust vote, Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif congratulated the members of the joint opposition and promised that the new government “would not indulge in politics of revenge”, according to Dawn. Sharif, the younger brother of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, is the main candidate to replace Khan.
“I don’t want to go back to bitterness of the past,” Shehbaz Sharif said after Khan lost his parliamentary majority. “We want to forget them and move forward. We will not take revenge or do injustice, we will not send people to jail for no reason, law and justice will take its course.”
Pakistan People’s Party Chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that the National Assembly had made history by passing the no-trust vote, The Express Tribune reported.
“Welcome back to purana [old] Pakistan,” he said, in a reference to Khan’s slogan of a naya [new] Pakistan. “I have learned a lot during the past three years. Never give up on your dreams nothing is impossible. Democracy is the best revenge.”
Ali Muhammad Khan, the lone member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the House, on Sunday said that Khan paid the price for pursuing an independent foreign policy. “I am proud of my leader that he did not bow down before West and fought till the end,” he said. “He will return to power with two-thirds majority.”
The Opposition had moved the no-trust vote on March 8 alleging that the cricketer-turned-politician has failed to control inflation and was responsible for the economic crisis in Pakistan.
However, Khan had repeatedly claimed that the Opposition colluded with the United States to unseat him because of his foreign policy choices. The White House has denied any involvement in Pakistan’s internal politics.
On April 3, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri rejected the no-confidence vote against Khan.
Suri had said that the motion breached Article 5 of Pakistan’s Constitution, which deals with loyalty to the state and obedience to the Constitution.
However, on Thursday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court restored the National Assembly and ordered its speaker to call a session on April 9 to organise a no-confidence vote against Khan. Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial stated that Khan had acted unconstitutionally when he blocked the no-confidence vote.
Khan’s party spent 14 hours trying to delay the vote on Saturday and block it in the Assembly.