Imran Khan was removed from his post as Pakistani Prime Minister on Sunday after losing a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly.
The drama caps weeks of opposition machinations aimed at unraveling the tenuous coalition that Khan built around his Pakistani party Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to become prime minister in 2018.
Here are brief profiles of the key players in the saga:
The brother of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif – who was disqualified for never running for office again and is currently in exile in Britain – Shehbaz is the leading candidate to replace Khan.
The 70-year-old is a political heavyweight in his own right, however, having served as chief minister of Punjab, the family’s power base, and now chairman of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).
A tough administrator renowned for his passionate outbursts, he is known for quoting revolutionary poetry in his speeches and is considered a workaholic.
He remains popular despite grim tabloid headlines about multiple marriages and a property portfolio that includes luxury apartments in London and Dubai.
Asif Ali Zardari
Hailing from a wealthy Sindh family, Zardari was best known for his playboy lifestyle until an arranged marriage saw him marry Benazir Bhutto shortly before she became prime minister for the first time.
He threw himself into politics with enthusiasm, earning himself the nickname “Mr. Ten Percent” for his share of government contracts, and was imprisoned twice on corruption-related charges. , drug trafficking and murder – although he was never tried.
The 67-year-old became co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) after Bhutto’s assassination in 2007, and became the country’s president a year later under a power-sharing deal with the PML -NOT.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
The son of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari is political royalty and became PPP chairman aged just 19 after his mother was assassinated.
The 33-year-old, an Oxford graduate, is seen as a progressive, like his mother, and has spoken out frequently on women’s and minority rights.
With more than half of Pakistan’s population aged 22 or younger, Bhutto’s social media acumen is a hit with young people, though he is often mocked for his poor command of Urdu, the national language.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman
After beginning political life as an incendiary Islamist extremist, the Muslim cleric has softened his public image over the years with a flexibility that has seen him forge alliances with secular parties on the left and right of the spectrum.
With the ability to mobilize tens of thousands of madrassa students, his Jamiatul Ulema-e-Islam (F) party never garners enough support for power on its own, but is usually a key player in any government.
His enmity with Khan runs deep, calling him “a Jew” in reference to his former marriage to British Jemima Goldsmith.
Khan, in return, calls him “Mullah Diesel” for his alleged involvement in corruption involving fuel licensing.