The Last Developments in Pakistan and Expectations From the New Government

The Last Developments in Pakistan and Expectations From the New Government
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The government in Pakistan, led by Imran Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Movement for Justice (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-PTI), was dissolved on Saturday, April 9, following a no-confidence vote in the assembly. There were 174 deputies who voted against the Imran Khan government in the voting in the Pakistani assembly, which consists of 342 seats and requires 172 seats to constitute the majority. According to the results, Imran Khan has become the first Prime Minister who is dismissed from the office via a no-confidence vote in Pakistan’s political history. As Imran Khan had to leave the office before the end of his tenure, none of the 22 prime ministers in the history of the country since the Independence could complete their five-year tenure.

After the dissolution of the Imran Khan government, the assembly decided to elect a new Prime Minister on Monday, April 11. Nevertheless, Imran Khan and all the deputies in his party resigned together to protest the election before electing a new Prime Minister. After the PTI deputies left the assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, who is the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), became the only candidate. Thus, he was elected as the 23rd Prime Minister of the country after the election.

The Development of the No-Confidence Vote Process

The vote of no-confidence against Imran Khan came to the agenda after the opposition parties secured the majority in the assembly. The political parties, with which the ruling party led by Imran Khan had allied to ensure the majority in the assembly, and more than 20 deputies from the ruling party declared that they would vote against the Prime Minister Imran Khan along with the opposition, which transferred parliamentary advantage to the opposition. The transition of the majority to the opposition in the assembly seemed to increase the pressures on the government to hold a vote of no-confidence. In the relevant atmosphere, on March 28, it was decided to hold a no-confidence vote session against Prime Minister Khan on April 2, at 12:00 local time.

Nonetheless, in his statement on April 3, Imran Khan claimed that the USA was behind the attempt to overthrow him and argued that the relevant voting should not be held. After the statement of Khan, the vote concerning the government was rejected by the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Qasim Khan Suri, on the grounds that it violated Article 5 of the Constitution. After the call of Imran Khan, President Arif Alvi declared that he dissolved the assembly on April 3 and announced that the early election would be held in 90 days. On the other hand, the opposition parties brought the case to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the President's dissolution of the assembly in the given situation was against the constitution. After the appeal of the opposition, the Supreme Court announced its decision on April 7, which was to reject the dissolution of the assembly, and it suggested reopening the assembly on April 9 to vote on the relevant no-confidence question. Thus, the Imran Khan government was dismissed following the no-confidence vote, and Shehbaz Sharif became the 23rd Prime Minister of the country after the election held in the assembly on April 11. 

The Potential Scenarios in the Post-Imran Khan Period

It is possible to mention several projections concerning the potential developments that may occur in domestic and foreign policy in the era of the new government. First of all, when it is considered from the domestic policy perspective, it is seen that the new government has taken over an economy that is in challenging condition. According to the statements of the new government, the main priority for them is to find solutions to the economic problems in the country until the elections in 2023. However, the evaluations suggest that it is a coalition government of 12 parties, and the differences between them will make it difficult for the new government to prioritize the relevant economic and social problems.

On the other hand, from the foreign policy perspective, Shehbaz Sharif is expected to maintain good relations with China during his term in power. As it can be understood from Shehbaz Sharif’s positive remarks toward China in his first statement as the Prime Minister, Beijing's investments in the country require the continuation of the relations in their current order. Moreover, improving relations with the USA, which deteriorated during the era of Imran Khan, will be one of the priorities of the new government. Contrary to the attitude of Imran Khan towards the USA, the desire to have good relations with the USA in the statements made by the army will be met by the new government. In addition, the recovery of the relations with the USA can pave the way for the new aid that is wanted to be received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is a crucial issue for solving the problems in domestic politics and entering the 2023 elections powerful, but stuck in some political processes. According to the experts of the region, it is significant in terms of improving the current economic situation in the country to some extent and fulfilling the promises of the government. The relations with Türkiye and Iran, along with the great powers, are not expected to be significantly affected by the change of government in the country. Still, the current relations of the new government with Saudi Arabia should be taken into consideration concerning the relations with Iran. In contrast to Imran Khan, the new government is expected to form closer relations with the Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia. Therefore, it is suggested that the close relationship of Shehbaz Sharif with the Riyadh officials has the potential to influence Pakistan’s policy towards Iran, as during the Nawaz Sharif government.