After the dramatic weekend 'no confidence' vote ouster of Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, described by he and his supporters as a foreign backed coup led covertly by the United States, the country's lawmakers convened Monday to choose a new prime minister.
They chose opposition lawmaker Shahbaz Sharif to replace Khan - the latter whose supports took to the streets Sunday night in various cities across the country, calling his ouster and replacement illegitimate. "Mr Shahbaz, 70, is the younger brother of three-times prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and led the bid by the opposition parties to remove Mr Khan," Sky News notes.
Khan on Sunday rejected parliament's midnight no confidence vote to ouster him from the night before. "Pakistan became an independent state in 1947; but the freedom struggle begins again today against a foreign conspiracy of regime change," he wrote on Twitter. He called what's happening a power grab by an "imported government."
Many thousands have taken to the streets Sunday into early Monday, including in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar - where some instances roads were blocked - and even with pro-Khan demonstrations popping up in Dubai and London.
Multiple hundreds were observed gathered to protest in front of the London home of Nawaz Sharif as well, where supporters of Sharif clashed with the pro-Khan rally.
Newly named PM Shahbaz Sharif has been a prominent opposition lawmaker since his election to parliament in 1990, having fled the country following the 1999 military coup, but returning in 2007.
On Monday as lawmakers appointed Sharif new prime minister, Khan issued a statement thanking his supporters for taking to the streets "against US-backed regime change".
However, he appears to be conceding given he changed his verified Twitter bio to the following: Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf & former Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
His specifying "former" prime minister is being widely taken to mean he's conceding defeat, or at least not willing to risk civil unrest in pushing back against his ouster too hard (or perhaps he was paid off handsomely?).
It's believed his relations with the country's powerful military (which has long been the core of Islamabad's 'deep state') have soured, also amid surging inflation and a plummeting rupee, earning charges of severe economic mismanagement from the political opposition and widespread public anger. In particularl he's said to have clashed with Pakistan's Army Chief as well as the foreign office.
Khan had met with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Feb.24 - a mere hours before Russian tanks rolled across the border into Ukraine. Despite the Feb.23-24 visit being long in planning, and primarily aimed at boosting energy and trade ties between the two countries, the poor timing served to spotlight the controversy of the visit and warming Pakistan-Russia relations.