Imran Khan was voted out as Pakistan’s prime minister early on Sunday, ending weeks of political uncertainty that had fuelled a devaluation of the rupee, dragged down the country’s stock market and forced the central bank to raise interest rates.
Following a tense session of the lower house of parliament that began on Saturday morning, a coalition of Pakistan’s opposition parties gained the support of 174 members in the 342-seat house for a vote of no confidence against Khan.
“We will bring stability to Pakistan. There will be no revenge against anyone,” said Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the opposition after the vote.
Sharif, a scion of a leading industrial family and brother of former three-term prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was named the opposition’s candidate to become the next prime minister in a vote that may take place as early as Sunday, opposition leaders said.
Khan, a popular international cricket star, became prime minister in 2018 on the back of promises to reform Pakistan.
But his ouster more than a year ahead of elections expected by next summer comes at a time of mounting economic challenges for the country. The nuclear-armed nation is in the midst of a $6bn loan programme from the IMF that has involved unpopular measures including increases in utilities prices.
Meanwhile, fast-rising inflation, driven in part by the fallout from escalating commodity prices, has prompted warnings of a popular backlash.
“Hubris, erratic governance, poor economic management and intolerance of opposition were among key factors responsible for his downfall,” said Maleeha Lodhi, a former ambassador to the US and the UN and now a political commentator.