Pakistan has found a new prime minister in Shehbaz Sharif from the Pakistan Muslim League, after Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence motion last week.
The days leading up to the ouster saw huge political drama in Parliament, with Khan stopping a previous attempt to bring a no-confidence motion.
Sharif, who has been sworn in as the new leader, said Pakistan needed “healing” from the corruption experienced under Khan’s rule.
“The country is in all sorts of mess, thanks to the epic mismanagement of the Imran Khan government,” Sharif told The Guardian. “From paralysed bureaucracy to the foreign policy challenges to the broken economy, chaos is reigning supreme.”
When the opposition first tabled the no confidence motion last week, Khan shocked Parliament by instructing the deputy speaker to abandon the proposition as a “foreign conspiracy” led by US to dislodge him from his position. He called for dissolution of Parliament and fresh elections.
However, the opposition took it to the Supreme Court, which gave a verdict in the favour of the opposition, calling Khan’s actions unconstitutional. The court ordered that the no-confidence vote be accepted.
Sharif – who defeated defeated Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (Pakistan Movement for Justice) by securing 174 of 342 votes in the house – to become 23rd prime minister, in a country where no single PM has served a full term since independence in 1947.
The court’s decision was met with cheers from opposition members gathered outside the court.
Khan’s furious supporters responded with anti-American slogans, while police in riot gear separated the two sides.
Khan, a star cricketer who became a politician, began his tenure in 2018 promising to tackle corruption and cronyism.
While his government had some public support, he lost the popular vote amid a surge in living costs, depleting foreign exchange reserves, and the skyrocketing cost of necessities.
The military supported Khan and his conservative agenda when he won the election, but that support dwindled after a non-agreement over the appointment of the country’s next spy chief.
“[The military] don’t want to be seen as supporting him and be blamed for his failures,” opposition leader and former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told Reuters.
“They’ve pulled their support.”
Pakistani American scholar and history professor at Tufts University Ayesha Jalal wrote in The Conversation that Khan’s appointed Chief Minister in Punjab, Usman Buzdar, has has alleged been involved in corruption, bribery and making bureaucratic appointments in return for money.
Even members of Khan’s party fell out with him over his backing of the current Punjab Chief Minister.
South Asia legal adviser to the International Commission of Jurists, Reema Omar said Khan was ousted because of his irresponsible rule.
“It was] 3.5 years marked by incompetence; extreme censorship; assault on independent judges; political persecution; bitter polarisation and division; and finally, brazen subversion of the Constitution,” she tweeted.