Imran Khan: why is cricket star turned Pakistan prime minister facing no confidence vote - and who is he?

<p>Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan in 2019 (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)</p>

Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan in 2019 (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan is facing a vote of no-confidence, which is expected to push him out of power.

A cricket star-turned-politician, Khan was elected as Pakistan’s prime minister in 2018.

Here is everything you need to know about him.

Who is Imran Khan?

Before entering politics, 69-year-old Khan was an international cricketer and captain of the Pakistan national cricket team, which he led to victory in the 1992 Cricket World Cup.

He was also chancellor of the University of Bradford from 2005 to 2014. He came into power in elections in 2018, securing 176 votes.

His Tehreek-e-Insaf party won the most seats, but fell short of an outright majority. It allied with independents to form a coalition.

Khan acquired a reputation as a playboy during his cricketing years but has embraced conservative Islam after entering politics.

His first wife was the wealthy British heiress Jemima Goldsmith, who he married in 1996.

He married his second wife, British journalist Rehman Khan, in 2015, but they divorced within a year. In 2018, he married his spiritual adviser, Bushra Maneka.

Khan emerged as a critic of the so-called war on terror after the 9/11 attacks, accusing the US of fuelling extremism by carrying out drone strikes in Pakistan that killed civilians.

Khan removes his facemask during a joint press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in 2020 (Photo: WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

He has also expressed support for a controversial law that makes blasphemy against Islam punishable by death, and critics in Pakistan have branded him “Taliban Khan”, accusing him of sympathising with extremists.

He has denied those charges, saying he was committed to defeating Islamic extremists and cultivating good relations with the US, which for years has demanded that Pakistan do more to combat militancy.

Why is he facing a no-confidence vote?

Pakistani opposition legislators launched a no-confidence motion against Khan in parliament on Monday 28 March, hoping to oust Khan’s government amid accusations he has mismanaged the nation’s economy.

Shahbaz Sharif, the opposition leader in the National Assembly or lower house of the parliament, proposed the no-confidence motion against Khan.

Shortly after his election victory in 2018, Khan said Pakistan was in the worst economic condition it had seen, and pledged to cut government expenditure, end corruption and repatriate public funds.

Will the no-confidence vote go through?

Legislators in Pakistan appear poised to push Khan out of power in the upcoming no-confidence vote, after a small but key coalition partner abandoned him and joined the opposition.

He needs 172 votes to remain in power, but about a dozen lawmakers from his ruling party have revolted, accusing Khan of mismanaging the country’s economy.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement has only five seats, but the move puts the number of Khan’s opponents in parliament at well over the number needed to oust him in the vote, to be held sometime next week.

It seems likely to be a terminal blow to Khan, who already faces a revolt by a dozen legislators from his own Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, who have publicly pledged to vote against him.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed vowed the no-confidence motion will be defeated, but Pakistan’s opposition says it has the required 172 votes in the 342-seat house to oust Khan’s government.

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