The former cricket star had to face defeat in the parliamentary vote held on Sunday. The opposition needed at least 172 votes out of the 342-member assembly to oust him.
The no-confidence motion was supported by a coalition of politicians, including over a dozen defectors from Khan’s own political party.
In its decision, the Supreme Court also set aside Khan’s earlier order to dissolve Parliament and called for early elections, calling it “no legal effect”.
In an address to the nation Friday night, Khan reiterated unverified claims that the no-confidence motion was the result of a “foreign conspiracy” involving the United States.
Khan said he was ousted by the US because, unlike his opponents, he “could not be easily used as a puppet by the West” with regards to an independent foreign policy. He said he was not anti-American but would not allow his country to be “used as tissue paper” in a “one-sided relationship”.
He also called for a nationwide protest on Sunday, which he claimed was an attempt by “foreign powers” to “install” a new government.
On Thursday, the US State Department issued a statement saying there was no truth to Khan’s claims of interference.
“We are closely following developments in Pakistan, and we respect that, we support Pakistan’s constitutional process and the rule of law, but when it comes to those allegations, There is no truth.”
Sunday’s vote marked the latest escalation in a crisis smoldering for weeks, in which Khan had already lost the support of key political allies and the country’s powerful military.
Pakistan, a nation of 220 million, has been mired in political instability since its formation in 1947, with numerous regime changes and military coups. Under the current constitution of 1973, no prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term.
Khan’s ouster comes less than four years in office and there are now concerns that it could increase the risk of political instability in the South Asian nation.
claims of economic mismanagement
Pakistan’s main opposition parties have been rallying for Khan’s sacking since he came to power in 2018 following an election rife with allegations of vote-rigging and dishonesty.
Khan’s response has been to reiterate his claims that his protest is being fueled by the US.
Relations within his coalition government broke down due to his failure to work closely with his allies and the military.
As frustration with his leadership grew, the opposition filed a motion to bring a no-confidence motion in Parliament. He had urged Khan to resign before the vote.
Instead, after the deputy speaker of parliament blocked a no-confidence motion against him, Khan last Sunday called for an early election in a dramatic attempt to cling to power, which was almost certain to succeed.
The move, and Khan’s subsequent dissolution of parliament, angered the opposition, which has sought his removal for months.
The opposition accused Khan of treason and asked Pakistan’s Supreme Court to rule on whether the prime minister had violated the constitution. The Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday paved the way for Khan’s removal.
Khan’s rise in politics
Pakistan’s most famous prime minister in recent decades, Khan has made a name for himself as a politician, philanthropist and sports star in the country and around the world.
Born in 1952 to an affluent family in the city of Lahore, he received a prestigious education from the University of Oxford with degrees in philosophy, politics and economics.
After making his debut for the Pakistan cricket team in 1971, he went on to become one of the best players of his generation.
Keeping his eyes on politics, he mined his superstar popularity to become one of the most formidable politicians in Pakistan.
Troubled by the persistent corruption situation in the country, he founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), or Movement for Justice, in 1996.
Khan won a seat in parliament in 2002, but his party was mostly confined to the political jungle. In the summer of 2013, with a crop of new voters on the tales of Khan’s magic, the PTI advanced to that year’s general elections, although they were unable to secure a majority.
He led thousands of protesters in Islamabad against then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, locking down the capital in August 2014 during a lasting months, which became known as the Azadi March or Freedom Movement.
In 2018, after more than two decades of struggle in politics, Khan achieved his long-awaited dream of becoming prime minister, promising a “new Pakistan” and vowing to eradicate poverty and corruption.
During his tenure, he had to face many obstacles from rising inflation to global pandemic. Khan’s government has also faced a record drop in foreign exchange reserves, and last year accepted a $6 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
In 2019, growing hostility between Pakistan and neighboring India saw conflict between the two nuclear-armed states. But the diplomacy on both sides led to a fierce standoff, which lasted throughout Khan’s premiership, with the Pakistani leader highly praised for his professional and peaceful conduct.
In August 2021, Khan watched closely as the Taliban launched their insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan has deep ties with the extremist group and has been accused of supporting the Taliban as they fought a US-backed government – allegations denied by Islamabad.
For most of his tenure, Khan carried forward anti-US rhetoric, blaming the US for the situation in Afghanistan. In a sign of poor relations, US President Joe Biden and Khan have not spoken since Biden took office last year.
Under Khan’s leadership, Pakistan maintained close relations with China. Strong economic, diplomatic and military ties mean that Islamabad is one of Beijing’s closest allies in the region, while China has invested heavily in Pakistan in recent years through its Belt and Road trade and infrastructure plan .
Khan also refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, prompting renewed calls for him to step down from the opposition.
On a state visit last month, Khan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on February 24, the day Russia launched an attack on its democratically-ruled neighbour.
With those citing poor foreign policy decisions and rising inflation, Khan won a trust vote from Parliament just a year ago. But his luck shone on Saturday.
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