Fears Pakistan could slip into crisis emerged today as Imran Khan was removed from office after Pakistani MPs ruled they had lost confidence in their former leader.
Mr Khan, 69, and his allies had dramatically attempted a last-gasp bid to prevent the motion last week by dissolving parliament and demanding a snap election.
But in a ruling on Thursday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court declared the move to block the no-confidence vote both unconstitutional and illegal.
Pakistan’s parliament met on Saturday to proceed with the vote following a 13-hour impasse in which Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insa party used filibustering in an attempt to slow the process.
Several of Khan’s closest allies and a key coalition party deserted him as opposition parties swooped in and agreed to oust the embattled leader.
The head of one of the country’s largest parties, the Pakistani Muslim League, will now take over as prime minister.
The star cricketer-turned-politician had said he will refused to acknowledge an opposition government if removed from office.
And in recent weeks he shared theories that an American-led conspiracy was behind his fall from grace. He has so far shown no evidence of such claims – which Washington has denied.
Anticipating his loss today, Khan called on his supporters to stage huge rallies nationwide on Sunday.
‘You have to come out to protect your own future’, the under pressure former Prime Minister said.
‘It is you who have to protect your democracy, your sovereignty and your independence.,. This is your duty,’ he said. ‘I will not accept an imposed government.’
Khan’s options are limited and should he see a big turnout in his support, he may try to keep the momentum of street protests as a way to pressure Parliament to hold early elections.
The cricketer-turned-PM, 69, lost his majority in parliament last week as his opponents built their support, and he was facing the prospect of being ousted by the opposition on Sunday.
But the deputy speaker of parliament, a member of Khan’s party, blocked the motion that the Prime Minister had widely been expected to lose, ruling it was part of a US conspiracy designed to depose him. Washington has strongly denied any involvement.
The move had thrown the nuclear-armed nation, which the military has ruled for almost half its history, into a full-blown constitutional crisis, with opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif calling the blocking of the vote ‘nothing short of high treason’.
The nation is stunned,’ Dawn newspaper said in an editorial on Thursday.
‘Even as political pundits and the media confidently predicted Mr Imran Khan’s defeat in the vote of no-confidence, he seemed unperturbed.
‘No one could have guessed that his last ploy would involve having the democratic order burnt down.’