Islamabad — Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted from power after losing a no-confidence vote. The parliament held a vote past midnight. The vote strangely involved the Supreme Court also.
Imran Khan had said he would not recognize an opposition government, claiming a US-led conspiracy to remove him, albeit without evidence.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that Imran Khan’s act was unconstitutional when he resigned and called for new elections. The court ordered a no-confidence vote despite the resignation.
The speaker of Pakistan’s parliament announced his resignation minutes before the vote started. Members of Imran Khan’s party left the building, insisting he was the victim of an international conspiracy.
The new house speaker said that opposition parties secured 174 votes in the 342-member House to support the no-confidence motion. A minority party with 80 seats in the assembly replaced the ruling party that had 150 seats.
Pakistan’s cricket world cup winning captain was elected the prime minister in 2018. He promised to fight 30 years of corruption and fix the economy.
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In late March, sudden and mysterious defections deprived him of his majority.
The BBC’s Secunder Kermani said Imran Khan is widely popular and came to power with the help of the Pakistan Army. However, observers now say they have fallen out.
Imran Khan has repeatedly said that he is the target of a US-led conspiracy to remove him because he refused to stand with Washington against Russia and China.
The US has refuted these allegations.
Imran Khan visited Moscow for a meeting scheduled months earlier as Russia was launching the invasion of Ukraine. He has previously criticized what the Bush administration called the war on terror.
Saturday’s vote came after opposition lawmakers fielded a no-confidence motion to parliament last Sunday. Sunday is the weekly holiday in Pakistan.
But Qasim Suri, parliament’s deputy speaker and a member of Khan’s political party — swiftly blocked the vote. He said it showed “foreign interference.” And that it went against the constitution, which calls for loyalty to the state.
Khan’s government dissolved parliament and called for a snap election to be held. The resignation angered several opposition members, who accused the ousted prime minister of treason of blocking the vote.
Opposition parties submitted a petition to the Supreme Court to intervene in the situation.
On Thursday, Pakistan’s top court ruled that Khan’s decision to stop the vote from going ahead was unconstitutional. It ordered that the no-confidence vote should go ahead again.
However, an impasse over the vote continued well into Saturday evening, prompting the lower house of parliament speaker — Asad Qaiser, an ally of Imran Khan — to resign.