On Monday, more than 100 MPs loyal to Pakistan’s deposed prime minister Imran Khan resigned, posing a problem for Shehbaz Sharif, the country’s new, Western-friendly prime leader.
Shehbaz Sharif, 70, was elected prime minister by parliament on Monday, ending a week-long constitutional crisis that culminated on Sunday when Khan was defeated in a no-confidence vote.
The approaching change of government provoked public protests and a mass resignation of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party’s MPs.
If the speaker accepts the resignations, Pakistan parliament would be forced to hold more than 100 by-elections in less than two months, creating a big distraction for Sharif, 70, and his coalition partners, as well as a possible platform for Khan, 69.
As a result, the 220 million-strong nuclear-armed nation may remain vulnerable to political and economic turmoil.
Domestically, Sharif is known for being a capable administrator rather than a politician. Nawaz Sharif, a three-time prime minister, is his younger brother.
Shehbaz, unlike Nawaz, is said to have friendly connections with Pakistan’s military, which usually dominates the country’s foreign and defence policies.
Following Monday’s election, Sharif promised to address the country’s economic woes, which included the rupee’s all-time low and the central bank’s largest interest rate rise in decades last week.
“Hard work and unity, unity, and unity,” he told lawmakers.
“Today marks the start of a new epoch in evolution.”