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Sharif set to become next Pakistan PM after parliament ousts Khan

Pakistan's opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif (C) speaks with the media before attending a hearing outside the Supreme Court building in Islamabad on April 7, 2022.
Pakistan's opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif (C) speaks with the media before attending a hearing outside the Supreme Court building in Islamabad on April 7, 2022.
ISLAMABAD — Imran Khan was dismissed Sunday as Pakistan’s prime minister after losing a no-confidence vote, paving the way for an unlikely opposition alliance facing the same issues that bedeviled the cricket star-turned-politician.اضافة اعلان

A new premier will be chosen Monday, with centrist Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) chief Shehbaz Sharif already anointed to lead the nuclear-armed nation of 220 million people.

His first task will be to form a cabinet that will also draw heavily from the center-left Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), as well as find space for the smaller conservative Jamiatul Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) group.

The PPP and PML-N are dynastic parties that have dominated Pakistani politics for decades — usually as bitter rivals — and their relations are sure to fray in the lead-up to the next election, which must be held by October 2023.

Shehbaz Sharif is the brother of disgraced three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, while PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is the son of former president Asif Ali Zardari and assassinated ex-premier Benazir Bhutto.

Khan’s exit was met with a mixture of glee and sympathy.

“Back to the pavilion,” screamed the influential Express Tribune newspaper, using a cricket metaphor headline writers have found difficult to resist during Khan’s tenure.

No prime minister has ever served a full term in Pakistan, but Khan is the first to lose office via a vote of no-confidence.

“Sad day for Pakistan ... a good man sent home,” his former information minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Twitter.

There had been high hopes for Khan when he was elected in 2018 on a promise of sweeping away decades of entrenched corruption and cronyism, but he struggled to maintain support with soaring inflation, a feeble rupee and crippling debt.

Militancy is also on the rise, with Pakistan’s Taliban emboldened by the return to power last year of the hardline Islamist group in neighboring Afghanistan.

Khan had vowed to fight “until the last ball”, and he certainly took his exit to the wire Sunday.

He tried everything to stay in power after losing his majority in parliament — including dissolving the assembly and calling a fresh election.

But the Supreme Court deemed all his actions illegal and ordered them to reconvene and vote.

Still, there was drama right until the midnight deadline ordered by the court, with the speaker of the assembly — a Khan loyalist — resigning at the last minute.

The session restarted after midnight with a replacement, and the vote was finally held.

Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers stormed out, but the no-confidence motion passed with 174 votes in the 342-seat assembly.


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