Revisiting events of no-confidence motion against Imran Khan

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On April 10, 2022, then prime minister Imran Khan’s government was removed through a no-confidence vote. The toppling saw many twists and turns. This piece revisits those events.

On March 8, senior opposition lawmakers submitted a no-trust motion against Khan to the National Assembly Secretariat, with 102 members signing the requisition notice and 152 signing the resolution. On March 17, lawmakers from the ruling PTI revealed themselves to be part of the opposition, confirming the government’s accusations of vote-buying. The no-confidence resolution was discussed on March 25, with the NA Speaker delaying the session due to the OIC conference. The opposition ultimately succeeded in ousting Khan.
On March 25, 2022, the National Assembly session failed to table the no-trust resolution, despite being on the agenda, due to the passing of MNA Khayal Zaman in February. Parliamentary tradition mandates the first sitting after a lawmaker’s death is for prayers and tributes.

On March 27, Imran Khan alleged that the no-confidence motion was part of a “foreign-funded conspiracy” against his government over his refusal to have Pakistan’s foreign policy influenced from abroad. During the PTI’s power show in Islamabad, Imran claimed that attempts were being made to influence Pakistan’s foreign policy and that his government was being threatened with foreign money. He waved a letter, which he claimed was a coded diplomatic cable, and said that it contained evidence to prove his point. He also stated that he would not compromise on national interest and would not accept anyone’s dictation.
On March 30, the PTI government faced a significant setback when its coalition partners began abandoning it, leading to the party losing its majority in the National Assembly. The Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) both switched sides. The premier presented the so-called “secret letter” before the lower house of Parliament to sway party dissidents and disgruntled allies. Imran claimed that the language of the letter was threatening and that Pakistan would face dire consequences if the no-confidence motion failed, but he did not show the letter to anyone.

On March 31, 2022, the National Assembly session was adjourned again after opposition lawmakers demanded a no-confidence vote against Imran Khan. The opposition persisted in calling for Imran’s resignation, leading to chants of “go Imran go”. On the same day, Imran chaired a National Security Committee (NSC) meeting where a “strong demarche” was issued to a country over a “threat letter” that was viewed as interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs. During a national address, Imran accidentally named the United States as the country behind the letter before correcting himself and stating that it was not America.
On April 3, 2022, the opposition moved a no-confidence motion against NA Speaker Qaiser, which had over 100 lawmaker signatures. The deputy speaker chaired the session, where Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry claimed that a foreign conspiracy was behind the move to oust the government. He requested that the deputy speaker determine the constitutionality of the no-trust motion. The deputy speaker found the points raised by Fawad to be “valid” and dismissed the no-confidence motion while proroguing the session. The Prime Minister then appeared on television, announcing that he had advised President Arif Alvi to dissolve the lower house of Parliament and calling on the nation to prepare for elections.

On April 7, 2022, the Supreme Court of Pakistan restored the National Assembly and declared the president’s decision to dissolve the NA as “contrary to the Constitution and the law and of no legal effect.” The apex court also ruled that the deputy speaker’s decision was “contrary to the Constitution and the law and of no legal effect.” The court directed the NA to reconvene on April 9 and ordered the no-confidence vote against Imran to proceed. The opposition welcomed the verdict, while Imran pledged not to accept what he called an “imported government.”

On April 9-10, 2022, after a lengthy session, the opposition’s no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan passed, making him the first Pakistani premier to be ousted through a no-confidence vote. The vote was held in the National Assembly, which had been restored by the Supreme Court after being dissolved by the President. The session lasted for hours, with the opposition and treasury benches going back and forth. Imran was not present during the vote, and government members, except for Ali Muhammad Khan, boycotted the session. The Speaker resigned before the vote, and PML-N’s Ayaz Sadiq chaired the session, with 174 members voting in favor of the resolution.

With this Imran Khan became the former prime minister, and in the ensuing days, Shehbaz Sharif replaced him.