Khan’s fate hangs in balance as Pakistan political stand-off deepens

Islamabad, Apr 7 (EFE).- Pakistan’s top court Thursday resumed its hearing on beleaguered Prime Minister Imran Khan’s bid to block a parliamentary no-trust vote that has sparked a political crisis in the country.

The five-judge panel led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial will rule if Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s move to throw away the opposition-sponsored no-confidence vote against the prime minister was in line with the constitution.

Suri blocked the vote on Sunday after Khan’s government appeared to have lost the majority after several lawmakers from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) crossed over to join the opposition.

Some of its key allies also abandoned the government.

Khan later dissolved the parliament and advised President Arif Alvi to appoint a care-take prime minister and call for fresh elections within the next three months.

However, the Supreme Court took suo moto cognizance of the case. The opposition also filed petitions to examine the legality of the deputy speaker’s move.

The court began hearing the matter on Monday and is likely to give its verdict on Thursday or Friday.

Currently, Khan is acting as interim prime minister, with President Alvi awaiting the court’s decision to set the process rolling for fresh elections.

The elections process cannot begin until the court issues its ruling.

The opposition, which has joined hands to oust Khan, has termed the dismissal of the no-confidence motion as “the worst attack on parliament.”

The joint opposition decided to observe Friday as “the day of protection of Pakistan’s constitution.”

“There will be rallies in provincial headquarters and there will be a lawyer’s convention on protection of constitution of Pakistan,” a joint statement by the opposition said.

Pakistan People’s Party senator Sherry Rehman said it was the battle of the people as “Pakistan and the constitution demand justice.”

The opposition has urged the court to declare the parliament’s actions null and void and allow a no-trust vote against Khan.

Khan’s PTI has alleged that the opposition was gunning for his government to reverse the legislation passed on electoral reforms during its tenure.

The new electoral laws give overseas Pakistanis the right to vote through e-voting.

The reforms made it mandatory for the poll body to hold the next elections using electronic voting machines.

Khan claims his party has the support of 90 percent of overseas Pakistanis.

The PTI claims that if free and fair elections are held through electronic machines and overseas Pakistanis vote, the PTI will get the two-thirds majority to allow the government to introduce constitutional reforms.

However, all eyes are on the highest court to end the stand-off.

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