The joint opposition – a rainbow of socialist, liberal and radically religious parties – secured the support of 174 members in the 342-member assembly, more than the needed strength of 172 to oust the Prime Minister. The assembly will reconvene on Sunday at 2 pm to elect a new Prime Minister.
Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party members had walked out of the assembly just before the vote commenced and only the opposition voted in the no-confidence motion. Imran Khan was not present in the assembly during the process and vacated the Prime Minister’s official residence minutes before he lost the vote.
Shehbaz Sharif, the man likely to replace Imran Khan, praised the courage of the opposition saying it’s not usually seen in Pakistan’s politics. “Pakistan is now on the track of honesty and legality again…We are looking at a bright future where we won’t be vengeful and jail anyone who’s innocent,” he said.
Opposition party PPP’s Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari congratulated the people of Pakistan. “Democracy was under attack for the last three years. Welcome to purana (old) Pakistan,” he said in a jibe at Imran Khan’s poll pitch of “Naya (new) Pakistan”. Democracy is a golden vengeance, he added.
Local news reports showed extraordinary scenes of political turmoil in Islamabad as the no-confidence vote was underway after a dragged out, dramatic assembly session. Amid high drama, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly resigned ahead of the court deadline for the vote. The Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court were opened in anticipation of a midnight contempt hearing. PM Khan had defiantly announced in the cabinet meeting that he won’t resign.
A prisoner van had reached the assembly amid speculations that the Speaker and Deputy Speaker could be arrested if the vote is not held by midnight as ordered by the Supreme Court. Security was heightened at airports and an alert was issued saying no senior state functionary or government official to leave the country without a No Objection Certificate (NOC).
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had alleged that PM Khan was trying to create a constitutional crisis and seeking military intervention in the country’s political affairs by delaying voting on the no-confidence motion. He also attacked the speaker, accusing him of committing contempt of court and abrogating the Constitution. Another opposition leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President, slammed the government in a series of tweets, even calling for the arrest of Imran Khan, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.
Separately, Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government filed a review petition in the Supreme Court challenging its decision to declare the ruling of the deputy speaker to dismiss the no-confidence resolution against the Prime Minister as unconstitutional. The petition, however, is yet to be filed since the officers of the court did not process it on receipt as they close early in Ramazan.
Calling on the people of Pakistan to protect the country’s sovereignty, Prime Minister Imran Khan last night asked the people to hit the streets and peacefully protest against an “imported government”.
Making sensational claims of a foreign conspiracy, Khan has claimed that foreign powers are trying to topple his government and Pakistan’s lawmakers are being traded like sheep to accomplish this. “We got to know that US diplomats were meeting our people. Then we got to know about the entire plan,” he said, adding that he is not at the liberty to publicly release all the details owing to national security concerns. The US has bluntly rejected these allegations saying there is “absolutely no truth” to these claims.
With inputs from NDTV