Pakistan's Prime Minister Ousted in No-Confidence Vote

Pakistan's Prime Minister Ousted in No-Confidence Vote
Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, arrives during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Beijing National Stadium in Beijing on Feb. 4, 2022. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

ISLAMABAD—Pakistan’s political opposition ousted the country’s embattled prime minister in a no-confidence vote on April 10, which they won after several of Imran Khan’s allies and a key coalition party deserted him.

The combined opposition will form the new government, with the head of one of the largest parties, the Pakistani Muslim League, taking over as prime minister.

Anticipating his loss, Khan, who charged that the opposition colluded with the United States to unseat him, has called on his supporters to stage rallies nationwide on April 10. 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.

Khan had earlier tried to sidestep the vote by dissolving Parliament and calling early elections, but a Supreme Court ruling ordered the vote to go ahead.

The vote comes amid cooling relations between Khan and a powerful military that many of his political opponents allege helped him come to power in general elections in 2018. The military has directly ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 75 years and wields considerable power over civilian governments, who worry a disgruntled army could unseat them.

The opposition called for Khan's ouster charging economic mismanagement as inflation soars and the Pakistani rupee plummets in value. The vote caps months of political turmoil and a constitutional crisis that required the Supreme Court to sort out.

In an impassioned speech on April 8, Khan doubled down on his accusations that his opponents colluded with the United States to unseat him over his foreign policy choices, which often seemed to favor China and Russia and defied the United States.

Khan said Washington opposed his Feb. 24 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin hours after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Ahead of the vote, his lawmakers addressed Parliament to attack a letter Khan said told of a senior U.S. official, who was not named, who informed top Pakistani diplomats that Washington's relations with Pakistan would improve if Khan was ousted. Human rights minister Shireen Mazari said the memo named Khan and said that if he was out of power “all would be forgiven."

Mazari asked: “Forgiven for what? What is our sin?”

The U.S. State Department has denied any involvement in Pakistan’s internal politics. Deputy State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters on April 8 that there was “absolutely no truth to these allegations.”