Imran Khan loses no-confidence vote after day of high-octane developments; Shehbaz Sharif may be new PM
This came just ahead of a contempt hearing scheduled to be held by a five-member bench of the Pakistan Supreme Court which had ordered National Assembly to be convened to hold the no-trust vote
The Imran Khan-led government in Pakistan lost the no-confidence motion held in the National Assembly on Saturday minutes before midnight (local time) after a day of dramatic developments, with the former cricketer becoming the first Pakistan PM to be voted out in this manner.
This came just ahead of a hearing scheduled to be held by a five-member bench of the Pakistan Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising of Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Aijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, in the case relating to the opposition's plea that the move by the National Assembly's Deputy Speaker to reject its no-trust vote motion against the government last week was unconstitutional.
The SC had ruled in its favour and ordered that the motion be held in the National Assembly.
The leader of the opposition in National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of former PM Nawaz Sharif, is tipped to take over as the new Prime Minister.
Earlier in the evening, a high alert had been sounded at all airports in the country to ensure that the ruling regime's ministers and top-level officials were not able to leave Pakistan and an emergency was declared at all hospitals. Leave of all police personnel in the country was cancelled.
The Pakistan Parliament House was sealed and a “Red Zone” was declared by the police. Prison vans were deployed in the area.
Pakistan Army’s 111 Infantry Brigade, also known as ‘coup brigade’, due to its fast response in military coup d’etats, was deployed at Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence where he held an emergency Cabinet meeting where he reportedly asked for more legal and other options from his ministers. As per media reports, the Imran Khan govt was exploring ways to submit the purported ‘foreign conspiracy’ letter to the CJP.
As per a Reuters report, the Pakistan Army’s chief Gen Qmar Bajwa met Imran Khan amid the impasse in the National Assembly.
Late in the evening, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) had ordered the staff to open court at midnight if the no-confidence motion was not held in the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, members of Khan’s party PTI held protests at several places against the alleged ‘conspiracy’ to oust him.
The National Assembly’s session had begun at 10.30 AM (local time) in the morning in line with the Supreme Court order, with Speaker Asad Qaiser chairing it.
It was adjourned till the evening after stormy scenes. In the evening, the session was again adjourned on account of iftar and Maghrib prayers break.
Earlier in the day, speaking on the floor of the House, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi contended that the US national security adviser had telephoned his Pakistani counterpart and "categorically asked us not to proceed with the Russia tour" of Prime Minister Imran Khan in February.
In a lengthy address to the National Assembly, Qureshi talked major foreign policy issues, especially the alleged regime change being plotted by the US in Pakistan. "Today Pakistan is standing at a historic juncture and the people need to decide whether they want to live in an independent state or become slaves [to the West],” the 65-year-old politician said, while acknowledging that Saturday might be his last day as the foreign minister of Pakistan.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asked the embattled Prime Minister to “show some sportsman spirit,” before leaving office. Imran Khan is the “first captain who is running from the pitch with wickets because he fears that he will lose the match,” he said in Parliament.
The PPP Chairman trained his guns on Khan, who was conspicuous by his absence in the National Assembly when the session began. “Imran Khan is not present in the Parliament because he cannot defend himself. Conspiracies against the constitution will not succeed,” he said, while adding that before Khan leaves his office, he should “show some sportsman spirit.”
Bilawal told the Speaker Asad Qaiser that he was violating the Constitution and the court's order.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government led by Imran Khan also filed a review petition earlier today against the Supreme Court verdict on the Deputy Speaker’s ruling over the no-trust motion in the National Assembly, Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported.