'Welcome Back to Purana Pakistan': Imran Khan Loses No-Trust Vote

174 members of the 342-seat Assembly voted in favour of the no-confidence resolution.

5 min read

Prime Minister Imran Khan lost the no-confidence vote against him in Pakistan's National Assembly, held during the early hours of Sunday, 10 April.

The results of the vote were declared at around 1:00 PST (1:30 IST), with 174 members of the 342-seat Assembly favouring the no-confidence motion.

Within Pakistan's electoral system, a political party must secure at least 172 seats to win a majority.

Khan, belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was not present in parliament when voting took place, while lawmakers of his party staged a walkout.

It finally brings an end to the no-confidence motion that was moved by the opposition one month ago on 8 March.

The vote was initially supposed to be held on the morning of 9 April, but the National Assembly was adjourned, and the resumption of its session kept getting delayed for reasons unclear at the moment.

With Saturday night's vote, Khan, like all the 21 Pakistan PMs who came before him, got ousted before he could complete a five-year term.

This was, however, the first time that a Pakistani prime minister got voted out by his own parliament.


After the results of the vote were declared, Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif addressed the National Assembly, hailing the defeat of Khan as a "day to smile" for Pakistan.

Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader and former Speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq chaired the session during which the vote was held.

Khan's Cabinet Meeting & Pre-Vote Resignations

PM Khan had called for an emergency meeting of his cabinet on Saturday night as the no-confidence vote loomed over the National Assembly.

After the conclusion of that meeting, the federal cabinet announced that the prime minister would not resign, despite the odds being stacked against him.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had tweeted his frustration about the delay of the vote.

"1hr left still no vote. Court orders violated. Constitution being broken for the second time. We have been here since 10am. For 10:30am session. Still haven’t started agenda," he wrote.

174 members of the 342-seat Assembly voted in favour of the no-confidence resolution.

Dramatic scenes showed a prisoner van reaching the assembly amid speculations that the speaker and deputy speaker could be arrested if the vote was not held.

Pakistan National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, however, resigned before the vote, with the former claiming that he could not take part in a "foreign conspiracy" to oust the prime minister.

Two cabinet ministers in Imran Khan's government, Dr Shahbaz Gill and Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, accepted defeat shortly before the declaration of the results of the no-trust vote.

Additionally, Geo News reported that a request had been filed in the Islamabad High Court to put Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and I&B Minister Fawad Chaudhary on the exit control list in order to prevent them from leaving Pakistan.

The Drama Surrounding Khan & Bajwa 

Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa met Imran Khan at the PM's residence after the cabinet meeting, according to Reuters.

Local media had initially reported that Khan may be relieving Bajwa of his duties.

Khan refuted these reports but the Islamabad High Court (IHC) reportedly became ready to take up a petition to restrain the prime minister from de-notifying Bajwa as the COAS.

The military had repeatedly stated throughout the country's current constitutional crisis that it would "stay neutral" and not interfere in civilian politics.


The Supreme Court

The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umar Ata Bandial, decided to open the Supreme Court's doors at midnight, given the uncertainty surrounding the no-confidence vote.

Pakistan's apex court had deemed the deputy speaker's decision to disallow the no-confidence vote on 3 April as unconstitutional, and had unanimously ruled earlier in the week that the vote will take place.

In fact, the delay in conducting the vote prompted the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan to file a plea in the top court on Saturday night against the government for not following the SC's orders.

Furthermore, the Khan government on Saturday filed a review petition in the Supreme Court challenging its decision to rule the deputy speaker's decision dismiss the no-confidence motion against the PM as unconstitutional.

The review petition was filed despite Khan publicly accepting the Supreme Court’s verdict and urging his supporters to stage protests peacefully across the country.


The Vote

The no-confidence vote against the prime minister began around 11:45 pm PST (12:15 IST).

After the resignations of the speaker and the deputy speaker, the PML-N's Ayaz Sadiq took the over the responsibility of chairing the session.

Members who were for the motion exited from one gate of the hall while those who were against the motion exited from another gate.

Once the hall emptied, the counting was completed and the results were declared.

The results of the vote showed that 174 members of the 342-seat National Assembly favoured the resolution of no-trust, crossing the magic number which is 172.

"We will not take any revenge, or put any innocent people in jails. But law will take its course," Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif said in his speech to the National Assembly immediately after the results of the vote were declared.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also weighed in on the results of the vote.

"Congratulations to Pakistan and this House. Welcome back to purana Pakistan," he said, taking a jibe against Imran Khan's 'Naya Pakistan' election campaign.


What Next?

Given that he has lost the no-trust vote, the individual most likely to replace Imran Khan as PM is Shehbaz Sharif, a leader of the PML-N and the brother of former PM Nawaz Sharif.

During a press conference on 30 March, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had asserted that Sharif "will soon" become the next prime minister of Pakistan.

After the Supreme Court had called the deputy speaker's decision to call off the no-confidence vote unconstitutional, Sharif had strongly tweeted about "politics of lies, deceit & allegations" being "buried" in the country.
174 members of the 342-seat Assembly voted in favour of the no-confidence resolution.

Sharif has the numbers on his side and will have to be officially voted into power by parliament.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has already stated that general elections are not possible in the country before October as "seven months are required to ensure a free, fair, and transparent polls."


Brief Recap

The opposition in the Pakistani Parliament had filed a no-confidence motion against the Imran Khan government on 8 March, blaming it for the economic crisis and rising inflation in the country.

Khan had called the revolt against him a "foreign conspiracy", and he even named Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu as the US diplomat allegedly involved in the "foreign conspiracy" to overthrow his government.

Citing national security reasons, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri disallowed the no-trust vote against Prime Minister Khan on 3 April.

Consequently, the National Assembly was dissolved by President Arif Alvi, and Khan was de-notified as the prime minister of Pakistan, who went on to propose former Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed's name for caretaker prime minister.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan, however, unanimously ruled that Suri's rejection of the no-confidence motion against the prime minister was "unconstitutional", and ordered the restoration of the National Assembly for the no-trust vote to take place.

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