Shahbaz Sharif speaks while other opposition parties' leaders watch during a press conference after the Supreme Court decision in Islamabad on Thursday night. AP
Pakistan's Supreme Court (SC) has set aside National Assembly's Deputy Speaker's ruling to dismiss the no-trust resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan and the subsequent dissolution of the NA by the president on the PM's advice, with all five judges unanimously voting 5-0 against it.
The decision came after four days of hearings by the top court over the major political crisis. Imran will now face a no-confidence vote by lawmakers - the vote that he had tried to sidestep. The assembly will likely convene to vote on Saturday.
The opposition has said it has 172 votes in the 340-seat house to oust Khan, after several members of his own party and a key coalition partner defected.
The apex court ruled that President Dr Arif Alvi's decision to dissolve the National Assembly was "illegal" and restored Imran Khan as well as his cabinet.
Supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz distribute sweets as they celebrate in Peshawar. Reuters
The SC ordered for the session of the National Assembly to reconvene on Saturday at 10:30am. saying that the session cannot be adjourned without the conclusion of the no-trust motion against Imran."The deputy speaker gave a ruling on April 3. Leave was granted on the no-confidence motion on March 28. The ruling of the speaker is declared unconstitutional," Justice Bandial declared.
The chief justice said the verdict was announced with a unanimous agreement of 5-0 after the judges consulted each other. "The current issues are done away with," he said. The verdict said that the government could not interfere in the participation of any MNA in the assembly session.
Opposition parties' activists exchange sweet as they celebrate after the Supreme Court verdict in Islamabad. AFP
The court stated that the current order would not impact the proceedings under Article 63 of the Constitution.
"It is, however, clarified that nothing in this short order shall affect the operation of Article 63A of the Constitution and consequences thereof in relation to any member of the Assembly if he votes on the Resolution or (if such be the case) the election of a Prime Minister thereafter in such manner as is tantamount to his defection from the political party to which he belongs within the meaning of the said Article," the verdict reads.
Shahbaz Sharif, Bilawal Zardari, Amir Muqam and Maulana Asad smile during a press conference after the Supreme Court decision. AFP
Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, while talking to the media after the verdict, said the court had "definitely fulfilled the people's expectations."
PML-N Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province chapter's president Engineer Amir Muqam termed it historic and said the verdict upheld the Constitution and the institutions working under the Constitution were strengthened. He said the judgment restored the rule of law and democratic system.
Sherry Rehman speaks during a press conference after the SC verdict.
On Sunday, the embattled Imran dissolved parliament and set the stage for early elections after accusing the opposition of working with the United States to remove him from power. His opponents had garnered the 172 votes needed to oust him in the 342-seat house,
During the week, the five-member bench of Supreme Court heard arguments from Khan's lawyers, the opposition and the country’s president before handing down the decision late on Thursday evening, after iftar, the meal that breaks the daylong fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
“In the by-elections of 9 National Assembly constituencies to be held on Sept.25, Imran himself will contest from all the seats,” the PTI announced on its official Twitter handle.
In an interview to Al Jazeera, Imran said Pakistan was rich in resources but the Bhutto and Sharif families used them unfairly. He said his government wanted Pakistan to become a prosperous country and was fighting against the two super-rich families.
Imran said he was disappointed but accepted the Supreme Court (SC) ruling that he had acted unconstitutionally in blocking the no-confidence vote when it was due to take place last Sunday, after which he dissolved parliament and called an election.
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