Khan’s MPs resign en masse while Pakistan’s parliament elects Sharif prime minister

  • New Prime Minister Sharif is seen as closer to the West
  • Pledges to reform the economy and improve relations with the United States, India and China
  • Expelled Prime Minister Khan vows to keep up the excitement

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – More than 100 lawmakers loyal to ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan resigned on Monday, causing headaches for incumbent Shahbaz Sharif, a new and Western friend as he tries to pull his country out of a political and economic crisis. .

Sharif, 70, was elected to parliament on Monday following a week-long constitutional crisis that culminated on Sunday when Khan, 69, lost a vote of no confidence in parliament.

His departure from power sparked street protests and the mass resignation of MPs from the Pakistan Khan Insaf party, in protest of the impending change of government.

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If the resignations are accepted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pakistan faces the prospect of more than 100 by-elections within two months, which is a major distraction for Sharif and his coalition partners and a potential platform for Khan to rally his support.

This, in turn, could ensure that the nuclear-armed nation of 220 million people remains vulnerable to political and economic turmoil.

Sharif has a local reputation as an effective administrator rather than a politician. He is the younger brother of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. L2N2W70HM

Analysts say Shahbaz, unlike Nawaz, has friendly relations with the Pakistani military, which has traditionally controlled foreign and defense policy.

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After Monday’s vote, Sharif vowed to tackle an economic crisis that sent the rupee to all-time lows and the central bank last week’s biggest rate hike in decades.

“If we are to rescue the sinking boat, all we need is hard work, unity, unity and unity,” he told Parliament.

‘We are starting a new era of development today.’

He was sworn in at the Pakistani presidential residence in the late evening of Monday, in a ceremony full of representatives and leaders of the joint opposition.

Reset Relationships

The younger Sharif has emerged as the leader of the united opposition to the ouster of Khan, the former cricket star who claimed the United States was behind his downfall, an assertion Washington denies.

Sharif said in an interview last week that good relations with the United States are essential for Pakistan through thick and thin, in stark contrast to Khan’s thorny relations with Washington.

In his first speech, he also spoke of improving relations with neighboring India and China.

“We want good relations with India but lasting peace cannot be possible without the Kashmir solution,” he said, referring to the disputed Himalayan region over which the two countries have fought several wars.

He said his government would speed up the construction of the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

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Military coup

No elected prime minister has completed a full term in Pakistan since it gained independence from colonial power Great Britain in 1947, although Khan is the first to be removed by a vote of no confidence.

The military has ruled the country for nearly half of its 75-year history. She viewed Khan and his conservative agenda favorably when he won the election in 2018.

That support waned after a row over the appointment of a military intelligence chief and economic turmoil.

Khan remained defiant after his defeat in Parliament.

Thousands of his supporters in several cities organized protests against his ouster that continued until the early hours of Monday morning.

The Supreme Court in 2017 barred Nawaz Sharif from holding a public office and then traveling abroad for medical treatment after serving only a few months of a 10-year prison sentence for corruption.

“There can be no greater insult to this country,” Khan, who was ousted in the early hours of Sunday, told reporters on Monday about the possible election of Shahbaz Sharif.

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(Covering) by Asif Shehzad, Syed Reza Hasan and Gibran Nayyar Bashimam in Islamabad; Additional reporting by Jibran Ahmed in Peshawar and Gul Yousafzai in Quetta. Written by Alasdair Pal. Editing by Simon Cameron Moore, William MacLean and Howard Guler

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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