Pakistan's Khan Voted Out of Office
What is happening in Pakistan?
- Khan’s downfall in politics was the culmination of multiple factors including high inflation rates, increasing costs of food and fuel, and an ever-growing foreign debt. Additionally, Khan lost the support of the military after shifting the country away from the U.S. and towards Russia and China.
- On March 8, opposition lawmakers filed a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly, in a bid to oust Khan. However, on April 3, the National Assembly Speaker, Qasim Suri, deemed the vote violated the constitution, which calls for loyalty to the state. During a political rally, Khan accused the U.S. of playing a role in his removal from office, which the State Department denied. Khan decided to dissolve parliament and called for elections within 90 days.
- Pakistan’s Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional for Khan’s party to block the vote of no-confidence. On April 10, Khan was removed from office after losing the vote of no-confidence.
- The following Monday, MPs voted to make opposition leader Shebaz Sharif, the brother of former PM Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s new prime minister.
Impact of the political situation:
- Analysts claim that Khan’s alienation of the U.S. weakened U.S.-Pakistan relations. However, Khan’s claim of foreign interference in Pakistani politics has found support by large swaths of the public.
- Protesters, especially the youth, took to the streets following Khan’s removal from office. The political situation has left the country divided, which may lead to more turmoil in the upcoming months until general elections scheduled for 2023.
- For Sharif, it is believed that his earliest priorities will be to repair U.S.-Pakistan relations and support from the military and finally to stabilize the economy.
Background on former PM Imran Khan:
- Khan’s claim to fame came as a cricket player on the Pakistani national team in the 1980s and ‘90s.
- After retiring from cricket, Khan began a career in politics and founded the centrist Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice-PTI) party in 1996. Originally, the PTI party was not successful and won limited seats in the National Assembly. Throughout his early political career, Khan was an outspoken critic of the corruption and economic inequality in the country.
- In the 2013 general elections, the PTI party succeeded in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The following year, Khan called for the resignation of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over allegations of ballot rigging. Khan pushed the Supreme Court to investigate Sharif as he was implicated in the Panama Papers. The Supreme Court banned Sharif from holding public office and he subsequently resigned.
- Ahead of the 2018 general election, Khan ran under the slogan of “new Pakistan” and promised to fight corruption and poverty. In August 2018, Khan became prime minister after forming a coalition with independent members of parliament.