New Delhi: With 174 members in the 342-strong house voting in favour of the no-trust motion moved by the opposition against Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned politician’s Prime Ministerial term came to an unceremonious end.
Khan has thus become the first prime minister in Pakistan’s history to have been removed from office through a no-confidence vote which was carried out post mid-night.
The opposition, a combination of socialist, liberal and radically religious parties managed to secure the support of 174 members, two more than the required 172 to oust a sitting Prime Minister.
PML-N’s Ayaz Sadiq, who was chairing the session, announced the result, after which Khan ceased to hold the office as per Article 95 of the Constitution.
According to reports from Pakistan, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party members had walked out of the assembly just before the vote began, which meant that only the opposition voted.
Incidentally, Khan was not present in the assembly during the process and vacated the Prime Minister’s official residence minutes before he lost the vote.
Addressing the National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, who is the joint opposition’s candidate for the post of prime minister, paid tribute to the joint opposition and said that the “new regime would not indulge in politics of revenge”.
Taking the floor, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto said,“we have made a history by passing no-trust motion for the first time in the country’s history”.
“Welcome back to purana [old] 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,” he added.
An embattled Imran Khan
In a desperate bid to hold on to power, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party filed a review petition against the Supreme Court’s 7 April order that paved the way for the no-confidence motion.
The assembly session, which began at 10.30 am, witnessed stormy scenes as the Opposition accused Khan’s PTI government of using delaying tactics to postpone the no-trust vote. The PM did not attend the session.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court had, in a historic judgment on Thursday, set aside the 3 April ruling of Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri against the no-confidence motion on “constitutional grounds”, and called for a session of the National Assembly “not later than 10.30 am on Saturday”.
The order came days after Khan’s ruling coalition effectively lost its majority in Pakistan’s National Assembly as key allies like Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) withdrew support to the PTI government.
Don’t give in to PM’s dictation, Oppn tells Speaker
Speaking in the House on the no-confidence motion Saturday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi raked up several issues including Kashmir, the accidental firing of a missile from India last month that landed in Pakistan, and Imran Khan’s visit to Russia on the eve of its invasion of Ukraine.
The Opposition chanted slogans, pressing for the taking up of the no-confidence motion, while Qureshi was speaking in the National Assembly, local media reported.
Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif urged Speaker Asad Qaiser to fulfil his duties with integrity and not bow down to Khan’s “dictation”, and abide by the order of the Pakistan Supreme Court. Qaiser said that the House should also hold a discussion on the issue of “international conspiracy”.
Speaking in the House, Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also delivered a fiery speech, during which he tore into the ‘foreign conspiracy’ theory.
He claimed that the “real conspiracy” was that Imran Khan “is afraid of elections”.
“He is conspiring that he will not let the vote happen and will make the Speaker a sacrificial lamb just so he can keep his seat for one more day,” he further said.
The PPP chairman also said that not having the no-confidence vote during the session would amount to contempt of court.
Last gambit: Khan’s speech before no-trust vote
After the Supreme Court ruling, Imran Khan had addressed the nation, which is being seen as a last ploy to save his government.
He had said that while he was disappointed by the judgment, he would respect it.
Khan had also declared that he would not accept an “imported government”, alluding to his frustration with the apex court for not carefully looking into the role of foreign hands behind his potential ouster and the no-trust vote. He said that he would have preferred a probe into his accusations against foreign powers.
Given Khan’s allegation that Donald Lu, the US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs was involved in the “foreign conspiracy” to overthrow his government through a no-confidence vote, it can be assumed that the PM was taking a hit at Washington D.C. in what could be his last speech as Pakistan’s prime minister.
In the address, Khan also said, “What kind of example are we creating, what sort of Pakistan are we living in, if our parliamentarians are selling themselves for money.”
Praising India again, he had said: “Indians are very self-respecting people. No superpower can dictate to them on what to do”.
Khan had also declared that he was ready for a struggle to save Pakistan.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)