Pakistan's top court meets on PM dissolving parliament - GulfToday

Pakistan's top court meets on PM dissolving parliament


This photo shows the building of Pakistan's Supreme Court in Islamabad. File photo

Gulf Today Report

Pakistan's Supreme Court was hearing arguments Monday around Prime Minister Imran Khan's shock decision to call an early election, sidestepping a no-confidence vote that would have seen him booted from office.

With Pakistan in political turmoil, the country's Supreme Court is to convene on Monday to hear arguments and later rule on whether Prime Minister Imran Khan and his allies had the legal right to dissolve parliament and set the stage for early elections.


Pakistan president dissolves Parliament at PM's request

Pakistani expats hail lone fighter Imran after he bowls out opposition

The opposition had expected to take power on Sunday after mustering enough votes to oust the cricketer-turned-politician, but the national assembly deputy speaker refused to allow the motion to proceed because of "foreign interference".

"The nation is stunned," the English-language "Dawn" newspaper said in an editorial.

Residents read morning newspapers along the roadside in Islamabad on Monday.  AFP

"Even as political pundits and the media confidently predicted Mr Imran Khan’s defeat in the vote of no-confidence, he seemed unperturbed.

"No one could have guessed that his last ploy would involve having the democratic order burnt down."

The opposition is challenging the latest moves by Khan, a former cricket start turned conservative Islamist leader who came to power in 2018, as a ploy to stay on as prime minister. It has also accused him of economic mismanagement.

On Sunday, Khan’s ally and Pakistan’s deputy parliament speaker, Qasim Suri, dissolved the assembly to sidestep a no-confidence vote that Khan appeared certain to lose. The opposition claims the deputy speaker had no constitutional authority to throw out the no-confidence vote.

The developments marked the latest in an escalating dispute between Khan and the opposition, which has been backed by defectors from the prime minister's own party, Tehreek-e-Insaf or Justice Party, and a former coalition partner, the Muttahida Quami Movement, which had joined opposition ranks. The opposition claims it had the numbers to oust Khan in parliament.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan with top officials arrives to attend an event. File photo

Khan also dissolved the cabinet and wants a general election within 90 days, though that decision officially rests with the president and the election commission, and depends on the outcome of the court hearing.

Simultaneously, Khan asked the presidency — a largely ceremonial office held by a loyalist — to dissolve the assembly, meaning an election must be held within 90 days.

On paper, and pending any court decision, Khan will remain in charge until an interim government is formed to oversee elections.

A notice Monday from President Arif Alvi to Khan and opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif said they should agree on a new interim prime minister, but Sharif declined to cooperate.

"How can we respond to a letter written by a person who has abrogated the constitution?" he told a press conference Monday.

According to the constitution, the prime minister cannot ask for the assembly to be dissolved while he is facing a no-confidence vote.

"Khan's 'surprise' triggers constitutional crisis," thundered The Nation newspaper Monday, while its rival Dawn called it "A travesty of democracy" above a front-page editorial.

An alliance of usually feuding dynastic parties had plotted for weeks to unravel the tenuous coalition that made Khan premier in 2018, but he claimed they went too far by colluding with the United States for "regime change".


Related articles