Pakistan lawmakers ousted former cricket star Imran Khan as prime minister in a no-confidence vote, ending his four-year run as leader after he clashed with the country’s powerful military and Asia’s second-fastest inflation eroded support.
A united opposition bloc cobbled together 174 lawmakers to vote against Khan after midnight in Islamabad, two more than required to remove him from office. Parliament will convene again on Monday to pick a new prime minister, which will almost certainly be opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif.
“A new morning is beginning, a new day is about to start,” Sharif told lawmakers after the results were declared in the early hours of Sunday. “The prayers of millions of Pakistanis have been heard.”
The political shakeup in the world’s fifth-most populous nation is likely to immediately rebalance Pakistan’s foreign policy more toward the U.S. and Europe. Khan had shifted Pakistan closer to Russia and China, and sought to sabotage the no-confidence vote by claiming the Biden administration conspired with the opposition to remove him from power.
A Sharif-led government is also likely to help secure about $3 billion left from an International Monetary Fund loan needed to bolster foreign reserves and the currency. The rupee is trading near a record low against the U.S. dollar and foreign currency reserves have dropped to the lowest in about two years, enough to cover a couple months of imports. The central bank surprised analysts last week with the biggest rate hike since 1996.
Ahead of his ouster, Khan called on supporters to protest peacefully after evening prayers on Sunday. A national vote must be held by August 2023, and Khan is already pressuring the opposition to go to the polls.
Khan’s loss came after a fallout with Pakistan’s army over a range of issues, including interference in military promotions, his rocky relationship with the U.S. and management of the economy. Pakistan’s military has ruled the country for almost half of its 75-year history, and no prime minister has completed a full term in that time.
Khan didn’t go quietly. Last weekend, his party shocked Pakistan when one of his allies canceled the no-confidence vote over the foreign interference claims, after which Khan quickly called an election. Pakistan’s opposition called the move treasonous, as the constitution doesn’t allow parliament to be dissolved during a no-confidence debate.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court later rejected Khan’s rationale for scrapping the vote and ordered the no-confidence vote to go ahead on Saturday. During the parliament session, Khan’s party triggered multiple adjournments by repeating claims without showing evidence that the U.S. wanted to oust his government — an allegation the Biden administration has denied.
When the vote finally took place, opposition lawmakers cheered and clapped as the numbers were called out. Television channels showed opposition party flags being waved on the street and celebratory fireworks and gunfire sounded in Karachi and Islamabad.
China and EU Seek Partnership: Xi Jinping Proposes Key Trade Alliance
Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his desire for China and the European Union (EU) to become key trade partners and foster trust in supply chains, during a meeting with EU leaders in Beijing.
The talks marked the first in-person summit between the two sides in four years and addressed a range of economic concerns, including data flows and market access.
Xi emphasized China’s commitment to high-quality development and opening up, positioning the EU as a crucial partner in economic and trade cooperation.
He envisioned the EU as a trusted collaborator in industrial and supply chain cooperation, aiming for mutual benefits and win-win results.
The summit delved into longstanding issues, such as efforts by Europe to “de-risk” its supply chains and the EU’s anti-subsidies investigation into Chinese-made electric vehicles.
China criticized the investigation, urging the EU to avoid using it for “trade protectionism.”
Xi called for the elimination of interference between China and the EU, a statement likely directed at the United States, which has taken actions, including enlisting the Netherlands, to curb China’s development of high-end semiconductors.
The EU leaders, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, described their conversation with Xi as “good and candid.”
They discussed the main challenges amid increasing geopolitical frictions, emphasizing a commitment to balanced trade relations and pledging to enhance people-to-people exchanges.
During the meeting, Italy formally informed China of its exit from the Belt and Road Initiative, highlighting ongoing strains between the EU and China.
Xi discussed Belt and Road with EU leaders, expressing a willingness to connect it with the EU’s Global Gateway infrastructure plan.
However, deep issues remain, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, trade imbalances, and Chinese overcapacity exported to Europe.
Jens Eskelund, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, stressed the need to address these issues to foster a positive relationship between Beijing and Brussels.
UAE Commits $30 Billion as COP28 Climate Talks Kick Off in Dubai
Nigeria Eyes BRICS Membership within Two Years as Foreign Minister Emphasizes Strategic Alignment
In a strategic move towards global economic collaboration, Nigeria is aspiring to join the BRICS group of nations within the next two years.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, affirmed that Nigeria is open to aligning itself with groups that demonstrate good intentions, well-meaning goals, and clearly defined objectives.
Tuggar stated, “Nigeria has come of age to decide for itself who her partners should be and where they should be; being multiple aligned is in our best interest.”
He emphasized the need for Nigeria to be part of influential groups like BRICS and the G-20, citing criteria such as population and economy size that position Nigeria as a natural candidate.
BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, stands as a formidable bloc of emerging market powers.
In a recent move to expand its influence, BRICS invited six additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, to join the group.
Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, has been absent from the BRICS alliance, prompting discussions on the potential economic and political advantages the bloc could offer the country.
Analysts have noted that BRICS membership could provide Nigeria with significant leverage on the global stage.
Vice President Kashim Shettima clarified that Nigeria did not apply for BRICS membership after the bloc’s announcement of new members in August.
Shettima emphasized the principled approach of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, highlighting a commitment to consensus building in decisions related to international partnerships.
As Nigeria eyes BRICS membership, the move is seen as a strategic step towards enhancing its global economic and diplomatic influence.
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