Imran Khan was removed as Pakistan’s prime minister after a successful no-confidence vote, ousted just days after accusing the US of attempting “regime change.” Shehbaz Sharif was selected by parliament to be the next premier.
Khan, who served as prime minister since 2018, was removed after a broad opposition coalition voted him out on Sunday. His successor is the younger brother of three-time PM Nawaz Sharif. During Khan’s rule, the younger Sharif was charged with money laundering and arrested. He led the political alliance to remove Khan.
Khan claims the US singled him out for “refusing to be used as a puppet of the West” and that Washington pressured other officials in Islamabad to remove him from power in a “regime change.” He declined an invitation to President Joe Biden’s ‘Summit for Democracy’ earlier this year, and more recently has been reluctant to back Western condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as a punitive sanctions campaign. He made a last-ditch effort to hold on to power by dissolving the country’s legislature and delaying the no-confidence vote, but the Pakistani Supreme Court later ruled against him.
While Khan lost the legislature’s support, he still retains some popularity, with protesters taking to the streets across the country to voice support for the ousted PM. In Islamabad, roadblocks were set up near the parliament building amid the unrest.
The United States, for its part, has repeatedly rejected Khan’s allegations as false, with the State Department recently arguing that there is “absolutely no truth” to his claims.
Sharif was elected unopposed after a mass walk-out by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which had nominated Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi for the premiership but abandoned the effort over charges that the no-confidence vote was compelled by an outside power. Pakistan’s next election is set for the summer of 2023.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include Shehbaz Sharif’s election as prime minister.