Pakistan’s parliament elected opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif as prime minister, ending weeks of political turmoil since former cricket star Imran Khan lost the support of lawmakers and tried to prevent a no-confidence vote by pushing for fresh elections.
The younger brother to Nawaz Sharif, three-time premier and former prime minister of Pakistan, was supported by 174 members of the National Assembly’s 342-seat legislature. New leader Nawaz Sharif will need to secure $3 billion from the International Monetary Fund to boost the economy. Reserves are not sufficient to allow for imports, and recently the rupee hit a new record low.
“This is the first time a no-confidence has succeeded,” Sharif said in a speech after his election. “Truth has won.”
Before Sharif was elected, dozens of lawmakers from Khan’s party resigned in a move to pressure the new ruling party and its allies to call for elections. After a lengthy no confidence debate, Khan was elected to office just before midnight Sunday. His associates in parliament condemned the vote as an American conspiracy. There were many adjournments.
Being part of Monday’s vote “would be tantamount to giving legitimacy to an illegitimate government being imposed on us,” said Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s former foreign minister from Khan’s party. “We are all announcing our resignation today.”
Sharif said his incoming government would investigate Khan’s much-hyped allegations of “foreign intervention” in his ouster.
With Khan’s lawmakers quitting, the speaker can delay accepting their resignations—a tactic to convince them to stay or simply prolong the process. Marva Khan is an assistant professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences. She said that while the electoral commission may eventually have to conduct byelections, since the other parties have a majority they are able to continue the parliamentary process.
“As for what Khan is trying to do, he appears to be extremely disgruntled and seems to seek chaos,” she said.
Sharif’s reputation for being a friendly administrator has earned him a good name. He was also the chief minister in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous region. While his elder brother Nawaz Sharif (3-time premier) was often at odds with the military, Sharif maintained good relations with them.
The rupee and Pakistan stock markets rallied on Monday. The benchmark KSE-100 index soared by 3.8% before the count. Meanwhile, the currency climbed to its highest point in nearly two weeks against the U.S. Dollar.
—With assistance from Khalid Qayum.
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