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Imran Khan calls supporters onto streets after losing premiership in confidence vote

IMRAN KHAN blamed foreign-backed “regime change” after losing a confidence vote in parliament and the Pakistani premiership today.

Mr Khan accused the United States of interference. 

“Pakistan became an independent state in 1947, but the freedom struggle begins again today against a foreign conspiracy of regime change,” he declared.

“It is always the people of the country who defend their sovereignty and democracy.”

He called for supporters to take to the streets in protest after breaking the daylight fast that Muslims observe during the holy month of Ramadan.

Roads leading to the parliament building in the capital Islamabad were blocked by steel containers as crowds were expected to gather in support of the ousted premier.  

Opposition parties secured the 174 votes in the 342-member lower house needed to pass the no-confidence motion on Saturday, as was widely expected. 

A previous vote had been blocked by parliament’s deputy speaker Qasim Suri, who dissolved parliament last Sunday. He cited foreign interference, while Pakistan’s intelligence services claimed to have uncovered a plot to assassinate Mr Khan. 

But on Thursday the Supreme Court ruled the move unconstitutional, ordering a session to be convened by Saturday. 

Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, who is expected to be picked by MPs as the next PM, congratulated the Pakistani people on “a new dawn,” saying the removal of Mr Khan meant the country was “finally free from a serious crisis.”

Journalist Fakhar Ur Rahman said that Mr Khan had refused to resign ahead of the vote, while speaker Asad Qaiser “was threatened with [a] death sentence” under the constitution if he blocked the motion. 

The lower house will meet today to appoint a successor to Mr Khan. The new administration is expected to remain in power until elections scheduled for August 2023. 

But the former prime minister said he will not recognise any new government, insisting that he has been ousted as part of a US conspiracy for refusing to join its condemnation of the Russian attack on Ukraine. 

Mr Khan recently visited Moscow to discuss a major gas and oil deal and has, like neighbouring India, insisted on neutrality over the war. 

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