Top leaders of Imran Khan's party on Sunday vowed to fight along with him and praised him for not "bowing down" and walking out "gracefully" after he was removed as Pakistan Prime Minister through a no-confidence vote.
Despite the government's hectic efforts to avoid voting on the no-confidence motion against Khan, the joint Opposition succeeded in its month-long efforts to oust Khan from the prime minister's office as 174 members of the 342-member National Assembly voted against him in the wee hours of Sunday after a day of high drama.
He became the first premier in the country's history to be sent home after losing the trust of the House.
Khan, 69, was not present in the lower house at the time of voting. His party lawmakers staged a walkout during the voting. However, his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party's dissident members were present in the house and sat on the government benches.
The removal of Khan has set in motion the process to elect the new leader of the house.
Taking to their Twitter handles, PTI leaders praised the cricketer-turned politician for “fighting till the last ball”.
Sharing the news of Khan leaving the Prime Minister House, Senator Faisal Javed wrote: “Just saw off Prime Minister Imran Khan from Prime Minister House. He walked out gracefully and didn't bow down.”
Calling him “Pakistan Khan”, Faisal added: “He has lifted the entire Nation. Feeling proud to be a Pakistani and blessed to have a leader like him."
Former finance and health minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said that losing the battle is insignificant.
"Winning the war for Pakistan that we desire is what matters. That fight will go on as long as it takes. Insha'Allah," he said.
"In the last more than 3 years, I have seen Imran Khan work tirelessly for the betterment of the country," said Asad Umar, the former planning minister.
He said that Khan's only objective was to make Pakistan stronger and improve the lives of the people of Pakistan. "May Allah give you more strength to serve the nation skipper #ProudOfImranKhan."
Former energy minister Hammad Azhar said that on the call of "brave" leader Khan, a peaceful protest will be held across Pakistan after the Isha prayer (one of the five mandatory Islamic prayers).
Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry termed Khan's ouster as a sad day for Pakistan, saying that the "looters" will return and a good man was sent home.
Former human rights minister Shireen Mazari said that it was a "sad day for democracy when the US regime succeeds, aided and abetted by a corrupt political mafia and their domestic string-pullers plus a judicial coup which has destroyed parliamentary supremacy".
Khan has been claiming that the Opposition’s no-confidence motion against him was the result of a “foreign conspiracy” because of his independent foreign policy and funds were being channelled from abroad to oust him from power.
In an address to the nation on Friday, the 69-year-old prime minister reiterated his allegations that a senior US diplomat threatened regime change in Pakistan.
Khan has alleged that Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs in the Department of State was involved in the ‘foreign conspiracy’ to topple his government.
Khan, who came to power in 2018 with promises to create a ‘Naya Pakistan’, was dogged by claims of economic mismanagement as his government battled depleting foreign exchange reserves and double-digit inflation.
He apparently lost the support of the powerful Army after he refused to endorse the appointment of the ISI spy agency chief last year. Finally, he agreed but it soured his ties with the powerful Army, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 75 years of existence and has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.
Prime Minister Khan lost majority last month after some of the coalition partners decided to part ways while several dissidents openly defied his authority.
A special session was convened in the light of the verdict by the Supreme Court which on April 7 declared as unconstitutional a ruling by the deputy speaker to reject the no-trust move against Khan. The apex court also revoked the dissolution of the House