In the end, 174 members voted to remove Khan, two more than required.
Khan struggled for months to control Pakistan’s rampant inflation, foreign debt, and other economic problems. While many of his promised reforms and civic projects faltered, he maintained a loyal following, especially among young Pakistanis. However, he rejected the advice of the military leaders, and lost allies to the opposition, which had slowly gathered enough support to challenge his fitness for office.
Just before midnight Saturday, the acting Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ayaz Sadiq, announced that the vote would determine whether Khan “no longer enjoys the confidence of the Assembly and will cease to hold the office.” Lawmakers were asked to move to either side of the room, and each signed a register to indicate their vote. The result was announced shortly before 1 am Sunday in Islamabad.
Khan, 69, was expected to lose the vote after a week of drama in which he struggled to stay in office by dissolving the legislature and arranging to cancel the vote on the grounds that it was based on an illegal foreign conspiracy. On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the vote to go ahead as planned, and Khan pledged to respect their ruling the next day.
But by Saturday afternoon, with pro-government lawmakers idle for hours, it became clear that something had changed. The council took a long break that lasted into the evening while Khan was speaking at a charity event, and then held a closed cabinet meeting.
According to the state TV news channel, Khan walked out of the meeting and told a group of journalists that he “will not accept a new government that comes from abroad” and plans to present the “foreign conspiracy” document to the Supreme Court justices and other senior officials.
Shortly after 10pm, Pakistani news stations reported that the Supreme Court would open at midnight to deal with the deepening crisis. Police and paramilitaries were deployed around the courts and across the capital. The Federal Investigation Agency has also issued a red alert at all airports and said that no Pakistani official can leave the country without special permission.
Just before midnight, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Asad Qaiser, said he had resigned to support Khan, and asked all Pakistani citizens to “defend their country”. Caesar said he made the decision after seeing the secret diplomatic document. But Sadiq soon took his place and announced that voting would begin. By 1:30 AM, the embattled prime minister had been removed from office.
The dissident politician who took office in 2018 promising to end corruption and build an equal “new Pakistan” was facing a near-certain loss of power as a majority of 342 lawmakers opposed him, joined a coalition of opposition parties and supported defections from Khan’s Pakistan Justice Movement.
Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, 70, a veteran politician who heads the Pakistan Muslim League and has led the opposition legislative campaign, is expected to be chosen to replace him until new elections are held within the next six months.
Khan, a charismatic former cricket star, initially inspired millions of voters with his anti-establishment rhetoric and his vision of building a “new Pakistan” – an Islamic welfare state based on opportunity, justice and independence for the poor, Muslim-majority nation of 220 million people. .
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