Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, was due to face former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was nominated by Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
But on Monday afternoon before the vote, all of Khan’s lawmakers, including Qureshi, resigned en masse in protest at the proceedings.
The appointment of Shehbaz Sharif comes after widespread pro-Khan protests erupted across Pakistan on Sunday night. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in key cities, including Lahore and Peshawar, to support the ousted leader. They chanted slogans against the United States – which Khan said was involved in a plot against him – and the country’s powerful military, which had appeared to withdraw its support.
Against this backdrop of political turmoil and a crumbling economy, Shehbaz Sharif now faces a difficult time as the country’s leader.
He was praised for his ambitious administrative and infrastructure projects in the province, which saw progress in the education and industry sectors.
Shehbaz Sharif was instrumental in building the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and has a positive relationship with Beijing.
Shehbaz Sharif rejected the verdict, calling it “flawed” and “politically motivated”. Shehbaz Sharif also faces charges of alleged corruption.
In recent months, Shehbaz Sharif had led a campaign to depose Khan as leader of Pakistan over allegations of economic mismanagement and poor governance. Along with the opposition, he had urged Khan to resign ahead of a no-confidence vote that was largely expected to sack Khan.
Tensions simmered for days, with Khan repeatedly dismissing criticism and instead saying the moves against him were an attempt at regime change backed by Washington and some opposition members. The allegations have been denied by both the US State Department and the Pakistani opposition.
In a series of dramatic events, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament blocked the no-confidence vote against Khan. Khan then dissolved parliament and called for a snap election. The opposition challenged Khan’s decisions in Pakistan’s highest court, with Shehbaz Sharif calling them “nothing short of high treason”.
The court ruled last week that blocking the no-confidence vote against Khan was unconstitutional, paving the way for Shehbaz Sharif’s rise to power.