Imran Khan ousted

Loses no-trust motion ending weeks of high drama; Speaker quits moments before vote
Imran Khan ousted in no-confidence vote

Pakistan's lower house of parliament today 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 yesterday 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 PTI 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.

No prime mister has ever served a full term in Pakistan, but Khan is the first to lose office through a vote of no confidence.

It was not immediately clear when the assembly will choose a new premier but, opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif was almost certain to be picked to lead the nuclear-armed nation of 220 million people after weeks of high political drama.

The voting came after the country's powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa met Khan, two sources said, as criticism mounted over the delay in the parliamentary process.

Lower house Speaker Asad Qaiser, a member of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, who had adjourned the house four times yesterday, announced his resignation, heightening the drama in the chamber.

Asad Qaiser said he was resigning because he could not take part in a foreign conspiracy to oust the prime minister.

"Because this is a national duty and it is the Supreme Court's decision, I will ask the panel chairman Ayaz Sadiq to run the session," Qaiser said.

After Sadiq took the chair, he asked for bells to be rung in the house for five minutes to notify members that the voting process was about to begin, after which the doors of the assembly were closed.

Voting on the resolution then began at 11:58pm, and members in favour of the resolution were asked to exit the gate Sadiq's left. Sadiq then adjourned the session for four minutes since according to rules, the same session cannot continue past midnight.

Earlier, the National Assembly session, called to decide the fate of Imran Khan, was adjourned multiple times before voting on the resolution could take place.

The last adjournment was the fourth of the day as the opposition's clamour for immediate voting throughout the day had fallen on deaf ears amid lengthy speeches delivered from treasury members on the floor of the house.

Members of Imran Khan's party had suggested on Friday they would try to delay the vote as much as possible.

Khan's allies blocked the no-confidence motion last week and dissolved the lower house of parliament, prompting the country's Supreme Court to intervene and allow the vote to go through. The prime minister's supporters claim there is a foreign conspiracy to oust him.

Khan, 69, surged to power in 2018 with the military's support, but recently lost his parliamentary majority when allies quit his coalition government.

Opposition parties say he has failed to revive an economy battered by Covid-19 or fulfil promises to make Pakistan a corruption-free, prosperous nation respected on the world stage.

The cricket star turned politician has vowed to "struggle" against any move to replace him.

Meanwhile, late in the night, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) was set to take up a petition asking the court to restrain Prime Minister Imran Khan from de-notifying General Bajwa as the chief of army staff.

The petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn, was filed by an advocate under Article 199 of the Constitution and mentioned the Federation of Pakistan, Government of Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Dr Arif Alvi, Ministry of Law and the secretary of the Ministry of Defence as respondents.

The petition is a pre-emptive measure to restrain the premier from "using his arbitrary power" to recommend the army chief's approval before the expiry of his term for "personal and political motive".

However, no such notification was issued by the PM office till filing this report, according to Dawn. Fawad Chaudhry, Khan's information minister, denied that the government had taken any step to remove the army chief, terming such reports "baseless".

The opposition and some analysts say Khan has fallen out with the military, a charge he and the military deny. The army has ruled the state for half its 75-year post-colonial history, and no prime minister has completed a full five-year term.

Khan has accused the United States of supporting a plot to oust him, without offering evidence of his claim, which Washington has dismissed. He opposed the US-led intervention in Afghanistan and has developed relations with Russia since becoming prime minister.


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