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Shehbaz Sharif Likely to be Next PM, Marks Return of ‘Purana Pakistan’

"We welcome (you) back to the purana Pakistan," top Opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Sunday, as he took a jibe at ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had promised to create a ‘Naya Pakistan’.

Image credit: India Today

Lahore/Islamabad: After the unceremonious ouster of Imran Khan, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif is tipped to be the next prime minister.

Shehbaz, the 70-year-old younger brother of former three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has served as chief minister of the country's most populous and politically crucial Punjab province thrice. This is the first time his party PML-N – especially its supremo Nawaz Sharif – has agreed on his name for the post of the prime minister.

Former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chair Asif Ali Zaradri had proposed Shehbaz’s name for prime minister's position in a joint opposition's meeting to replace Imran Khan through a no-confidence motion.

Meanwhile, Khan has become the first premier in the country’s history to be voted out of power through a no-confidence motion held early Sunday and vacated the Prime Minister's official residence minutes before he lost the crucial no-trust vote in the National Assembly. Khan was dogged by claims of economic mismanagement as his government battled depleting foreign exchange reserves and double-digit inflation.

Pakistan has struggled with political instability since its formation in 1947 with multiple regime changes and military coups. No prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term in office.

Despite the government's hectic efforts to avoid voting on the no-confidence motion against Khan, the joint Opposition succeeded in its month-long efforts to oust Khan from the prime minister's office as 174 members of the 342-member National Assembly voted against him after a day of high drama.

Islamabad High Court will hear on Monday a petition seeking to place the names of Imran Khan and the ministers in his cabinet on the Exit Control List (ECL) to prevent them from flying abroad.

The ECL is a system of border control maintained by the Government of Pakistan under the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Ordinance, 1981. The people on the list are prohibited from leaving the country.

The court will also order an investigation into an alleged threat letter, the report said.

Khan Tried to Sack the Army Chief?

As the people of Pakistan woke up to a new dawn on Sunday, the details of the gruelling and murky political activities in the preceding day and night have emerged, showing the country may have averted a damning showdown between ousted prime minister Imran Khan and the powerful Army.

According to various media reports, Khan made a botched attempt to replace Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in order to bring someone more pliant and sympathetic to his idea of “foreign conspiracy” and cling on to power.

BBC Urdu reported that a helicopter carrying “two uninvited guests” landed in the Prime Minister’s House in the night and were escorted by Army soldiers to the interior of the palatial building. They two met alone for 45 minutes with Khan.

No details were officially provided about the meeting but it was not held in a cordial atmosphere, the report said.

“The Prime Minister had issued orders an hour ago to remove one of the high officials who came to meet him. So the uninvited arrival of these guests was unexpected for the Prime Minister. Imran Khan was waiting for a helicopter but those arriving on the helicopter were against his estimate and expectations,” according to the report.

It further said that Khan was expecting that the helicopter would bring his “newly appointed official” whose arrival would put down all political disturbance.

It also reported that the attempted effort for a “change” failed as the defence ministry did not issue the necessary notification for the new appointment.

However, Khan in a meeting with a group of his favourite journalists, told them that there was no truth in the rumour that he was trying to replace the Army chief.

‘Welcome to Purana Pakistan’

"We welcome (you) back to the purana Pakistan," top Opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Sunday, as he took a jibe at ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan following the adoption of a no-confidence vote against him. 

Khan, who came to power in 2018 had promised to create a ‘Naya Pakistan’.

"I would like to congratulate the whole nation and this House, as for the first time in the history of the country, a no-confidence motion has succeeded and we have made history," Bilawal said.

Speaking on the occasion, the PPP chairman recalled the significance of April 10, adding that on this day, the country approved the 1973 Constitution.

"On April 10, 1986, Benazir Bhutto ended her self-imposed exile and arrived in Lahore to launch her struggle against Ziaul haq," said Bilawal as he recalled his mother.

The Pakistan Peoples Party chairman said that on April 10, 2022, the person who was declared "selected” by the Opposition and proved himself to be an “undemocratic burden” on the country saw the end of his rule.

“Today, on April 10, 2022, we welcome [you] back to the purana (old) Pakistan,” said Bilawal, who is likely to be appointed the next foreign minister.

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