Shehbaz Sharif Elected as the New Prime Minister of Pakistan after Imran Khan’s Ouster

Published: April 12, 2022
Updated: May 5, 2022
Shehbaz Sharif
Shehbaz Sharif elected as the new Prime Minister

Shehbaz Sharif was elected Prime Minister following a walkout by PTI lawmakers.

After a walkout by lawmakers from ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan’s Parliament elected Opposition lawmaker Shehbaz Sharif as the country’s new Prime Minister on Monday.

Mr. Sharif was the sole candidate. He is the brother of disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but his election will not guarantee a clear path forward — nor will it solve Pakistan’s many economic problems, such as high inflation and a raging energy crisis.

Shehbaz Sharif was elected with 174 votes after more than 100 lawmakers from Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Pakistan Justice Party, protested by walking out of the National Assembly.

Mohammad Shehbaz Sharif has been declared Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” said acting Speaker Asad Sadiq.

The former Opposition leader will now lead a truncated house with a 174-member majority, which is enough to pass legislation in the 342-seat assembly. However, if Mr. Khan’s supporters take to the streets, as he has promised, it will put additional pressure on Parliament and exacerbate the crisis.

Mr. Khan, a former cricketer whose conservative Islamist ideology and tenacity marked his three years and eight months in office, was deposed early Sunday after losing a no-confidence vote in Parliament. Mr. Khan was defeated with 174 votes, two more than the required simple majority, after being abandoned by his party allies and a key coalition partner.

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Mr. Khan rallied hundreds of thousands of supporters late on Sunday to protest his ouster, calling the next government an “imposed government” in a show of strength and foreshadowing the political uncertainty that lies ahead. 

Mr. Khan’s supporters marched in cities across Pakistan, waving large party flags and pledging their support. The crowds were dominated by the youth, who make up the backbone of Mr. Khan’s supporters.

Some people were crying, while others were yelling slogans promising Mr. Khan’s return. Mr. Khan has also called for early elections, which are not scheduled to take place until August 2023. He has exploited anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, accusing the US of conspiring with his opponents to destabilize him. 

Shehbaz Sharif elected as the new Prime Minister

His conspiracy theory is popular among his young supporters, who see Washington’s post-September 11th war on terror as unfairly targeting Pakistan. Pakistan’s political drama began on April 3 when Mr. Khan dissolved Parliament and called early elections, avoiding an initial no-confidence vote demanded by the Opposition. 

The Opposition, which accuses Khan of mismanagement of the economy, has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.  After four days of deliberation, the court reinstated Parliament, and the no-confidence vote proceeded. Mr. Khan was ousted early on Sunday after a marathon Parliament session began on Saturday.

Shehbaz Sharif nhas served three times as Chief Minister of Pakistan’s largest and most powerful province, Punjab, which is home to 60 percent of the country’s 220 million people. 

Last week, the Punjab provincial parliament elected his son Hamza as the new Chief Minister, deposing Mr. Khan’s nominee. Mr. Khan’s party is contesting the election, and the younger Sharif has yet to take the oath of office.

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