Pakistan prime minister: Shehbaz Sharif chosen to succeed Imran Khan

Parliamentarians vote for a new leader after Imran Khan lost no-confidence vote

Pakistan elected Shehbaz Sharif to be the country’s 23rd prime minister on Monday, a day after incumbent Imran Khan was ousted by a vote of no confidence brought by opposition parties.

Mr Sharif received 174 votes from the house’s 342 MPs after days of political drama that saw Mr Khan, the former cricketer-turned-politician, removed just after midnight on Sunday.

In his maiden speech as prime minister, Mr Sharif called for unity to tackle Pakistan's economic crisis.

"If we have to save the sinking boat, what we all need is hard work, and unity, unity and unity. We are beginning a new era of development today," he said.

Ahead of Monday’s vote, members of Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had resigned in protest and demanded a national election.

"We boycott this election according to the decision of our party, and we are resigning," said Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Mr Qureshi had been the PTI candidate to be the new leader and his name remained on the ballot, but after the boycott, he received no votes.

The PTI action followed a night of large protests across the country where tens of thousands of Mr Khan's supporters marched on Sunday evening in cities across the country, with big gatherings in Karachi and Lahore.

The PTI party has pledged to keep up pressure on any new administration with additional marches in the coming days.

Mr Khan insists he is the victim of an American-led conspiracy because of his determination to pursue friendly ties with China and Russia. Washington says the accusations are baseless.

On Sunday night, Mr Khan, 69, said he was the victim of “US-backed regime change” abetted by local traitors “to bring into power a coterie of pliable crooks”.

Mr Sharif is widely expected to win the parliamentary vote on Monday afternoon, when he runs against Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Mr Khan's former foreign minister.

Mr Sharif, 70, the younger brother of Mr Khan's predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, had three spells as chief minister of Pakistan's Punjab province and has acquired a reputation for being a shrewd and pragmatic administrator.

He is also one of the dynastic political elite that Mr Khan vowed to drive from Pakistan's politics and he is currently on bail as part of a money-laundering investigation. He denies wrongdoing and says the investigation is politically motivated.

He ousted Mr Khan with a broad coalition of opposition parties that range from centre-leftists to the religious right. It is unclear how long he will be able to maintain unity among such a diverse group.

Pakistan's prime minister-elect Shehbaz Sharif, speaks after winning a parliamentary vote to elect a new prime minister, at the national assembly in Islamabad. Reuters

Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia programme at Washington's Wilson Centre, a think tank, said: “These mass mobilisations of Imran Khan supporters will be fuelled by a narrative around the new government being a bunch of traitors and US-backed provocateurs that ousted Mr Khan.

“Pakistan’s political environment in the weeks ahead will be partisanship and polarisation on steroids.”

Mr Khan's swift fall from power came after his government was blamed for bungling an already weak economy and falling out with the country's military, who wield formidable political clout.

Mr Sharif will inherit an economy with high inflation, a sliding rupee and a balance of payments crisis.

Updated: April 18, 2022, 11:50 AM