ISLAMABAD. Candidates for Pakistan's next prime minister are due to file nomination papers on Sunday (today) after incumbent Imran Khan lost a no-confidence vote in parliament, bringing an end to the former cricket star's nearly four years in power.
Imran had clung on for almost a week after a united opposition first tried to remove him, managing to put off the no-confidence vote, which he claimed was part of a foreign-backed plot against him, and dissolving parliament.
But the Supreme Court ordered parliament to convene and hold the vote and Imran's government fell in the early hours of Sunday after a 13-hour session that included repeated delays and lengthy speeches by lawmakers from his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.
The vote went ahead after the army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, met PM Imran, two sources, who declined to be identified, told Reuters as criticism mounted over the delay in the parliamentary process.
The military has ruled the nuclear-armed country of 220 million people for almost half its nearly 75-year history.
Opposition parties were able to secure 174 votes in the 342-member house for the no-confidence motion, giving them the majority they needed.
Parliament will meet on Monday to elect a new prime minister. Nomination papers should be filed by 11:00am (0600 GMT) on Sunday. Aaj News reported that the time for filing the nomination papers has been extended till 4:00pm and the scrutiny will be conducted at 4:30pm.
Imran has not commented publicly on his ouster but even before the vote, he called for protests.
"I am going to struggle," he said in an address to the nation on Friday.
"I tell all of my supporters across Pakistan, on Sunday, after Isha (evening) prayers, you all have to come out of your homes and protest peacefully against this imported government that is trying to come to power."
The united opposition’s ouster of the incumbent premier, Imran, through a vote of no-confidence, was unprecedented in the country, as he became the first prime minister in the country’s history to be unseated by a parliamentary revolt.
The no-confidence motion, which required 172 votes in the 342-member parliament to pass, was supported by 174 lawmakers, in a post-midnight National Assembly session.
The lower house of parliament will now appoint a new prime minister. Sadiq announced that nomination papers for the new prime minister can be submitted by 2pm on Sunday (today). Scrutiny of the papers will be conducted by 3pm and the House would come back to elect a new premier at 11am on April 11 (Monday).
Moreover, the development further showed that no elected prime minister has ever completed their five-year term in office since the country came into being in 1947. Imran Khan became the 19th person on such a list.
The country’s first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated on October 16, 1951, in Rawalpindi. After him, seven prime ministers resigned, five faced dismissals, while the governments of four prime ministers were ousted through military coups.
Shehbaz Sharif steps out of the shadows to lead Pakistan
Shehbaz Sharif, expected to become Pakistan's new prime minister Monday after leading the opposition alliance that ousted Imran Khan, is a tough administrator with a penchant for quoting revolutionary poetry.
Shehbaz is the younger brother of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was dismissed then jailed on corruption charges in 2017 and is currently in Britain after being released from prison two years later for medical treatment.
He is a seasoned politician in his own right, however, having served for years as chief minister of Punjab province, the Sharif family's power base, and also president of the Pakistan Muslim League-N.
The 70-year-old jointly inherited the family's steel business as a young man and was first elected to provincial office in 1988.
During his stints as chief minister in the years that followed, he presided over a series of big-ticket infrastructure projects, including Pakistan's first metro bus service.
Officials were reportedly kept on their toes by workaholic Shehbaz's habit of surprise visits to government offices, which he would inspect clad in a favoured safari suit and hat.
Still, critics say he did little to address the province's core issues -- including the need for civil service, health and agricultural reforms -- and instead focused on vote-grabbing projects, such as distributing laptops to students or offering subsidised taxis to the jobless.
Freed on bail
Sharif has also been linked to graft and corruption -- charges supporters say sprang from a political vendetta by Khan.
In December 2019, the National Accountability Bureau seized nearly two dozen properties belonging to Shehbaz and his son Hamza, accusing them of money laundering.
He was arrested and detained in September 2020, but released around six months later on bail for a trial which is still pending.
Unlike his elder brother -- whose relations with the military and his opponents were strained -- Shehbaz is seen as a more flexible dealmaker, capable of compromising even with his enemies.
"I have always remained a strong supporter of effective coordination between Islamabad and Rawalpindi," Sharif said, referring to the administrative capital and the nearby military headquarters.
Sharif remains popular despite lurid tabloid headlines about multiple marriages and a property portfolio that includes luxury apartments in London and Dubai.
His current marriage, to author Tehmina Durrani, has largely ended the gossip.
Durrani, a feminist whose book "My Feudal Lord" earned her international acclaim, is also credited with improving Sharif's respect for women.
Tough economic and security challenges await Shehbaz as he inherits a stagnant economy and escalating violence from Taliban and Balochistan separatists.