Pakistan to elect new government after Imran ousted in midnight vote

By Amjad Ali

Islamabad, Apr 10 (EFE).- Pakistan’s parliament is set to elect a new government on Monday after the incumbent prime minister, Imran Khan, was ousted in a midnight no-confidence, culminating days of action-packed and dramatic political brinkmanship of the nuclear armed country.

The most likely candidate to lead the new government amid soaring inflation and a crisis-ridden economy is the opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, a younger brother of the three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The younger Sharif presided over a joint opposition that filed a no-confidence motion against Khan, a former international cricket-star-turned politician.

After a day of chaotic political scrambling by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that repeatedly tried to block the no-trust vote for the second time in last seven days, the motion to oust Khan was finally passed with 174 votes, two more than the required simple majority in the house of 342-member house.

“A new dawn is coming, a new day is coming, and the prayers of millions of Pakistanis have been heard by Allah,” Sharif said after the poll results were declared.

“We will not avenge anyone, we will not send any innocent to jail but the law will make its way. There will be a rule of law.”

The session began at 10.30 am Saturday, witnessed several delays due to hectic party meetings, lengthy speeches by the ruling party lawmaker, and seen by the opposition as a government tactic to delay the vote.

The Supreme Court, which had intervened earlier this week to set aside Khan’s controversial blocking of the no-trust motion and subsequent dissolution of the parliament, said it would open its doors at midnight if the vote was not held.

The suspense on the vote kept dragging on until midnight just when Speaker Asad Qaiser stepped down as he refused to be part of an alleged foreign conspiracy to oust Khan.

“Under the oath its my duty to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the state of Pakistan. I have decided…not to remain on the post of the speaker,” Qaiser said before leaving the house.

Lawmakers of Khan’s PTI also stormed out of the assembly hall, leaving only the opposition members in the house to allow them to proceed with the vote.

Lawmakers will elect a new prime minister for the National Assembly to complete its term until mid-2023.

Ayaz Sadiq, who presided over the session after Qaiser stepped down, has sought the nominations for the new government on Sunday.

“The vote to elect the new prime minister will take place on April 11 (Monday) at 11 am,” Sadiq said before wrapping up the marathon session.

Khan, 69, had repeatedly asserted that the opposition moves against him were part of a United States-backed conspiracy, targeting the foreign policy of the second-largest Muslim populated country.

He has called for protests on Sunday night against the move to oust him.

Khan stormed to power in 2018, promising an end to endemic corruption in the country and creating an Islamic welfare state of Pakistan battling an economic crisis.

He became the first prime minister to be removed in a no-confidence vote in Pakistan, where no premier has ever completed a full five-year term in office.

The all-powerful military of Pakistan has ruled for the better part of its history since independence in 1947. EFE

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