Pakistan court examines legality of PM Khan dissolving parliament
Islamabad, Apr 4 (EFE).- Pakistan’s top court Monday heard arguments on the legality of a move to block a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan, who dissolved the parliament and called for fresh elections, triggering political turmoil in the country.
After hearing arguments for about two and half hours, the court delayed the matter until Tuesday afternoon for a ruling that would decide the fate of the embattled prime minister.
The Supreme Court took a suo moto cognizance of the situation before the joint opposition filed a petition against what they call “an unconstitutional act” by National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri.
Suri, an ally of the prime minister, dismissed the motion, which Khan was widely expected to lose since his parliamentary majority shrunk after the opposition cobbled enough legislative support to oust him.
The deputy speaker claimed that the motion was in breach of the constitution because a “foreign state was interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan and Prime Minister Khan was its primary target.”
Khan, whose five-year term was due to end next year, claimed that the no-confidence motion was part of a conspiracy led by a foreign government for his Russian visit on the day of the Ukraine invasion.
The cricketer-turned-politician indicated, at least on two occasions, that the country behind the efforts to oust him was the United States. Washington has denied the allegations.
His former cabinet members are now openly criticizing the US for “meddling” in Pakistan’s politics.
They referred to a “threatening letter” sent back home by then Pakistan’s ambassador to the US on Mar.7, a day before the motion was tabled.
“The Pakistani ambassador and Donald Lu, whoever was their representative. It was an official meeting and there were sitting note-takers from both sides,” Khan said in a televised address to his party leaders after the no-confidence motion got trashed.
Lu is a US diplomat serving as Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs in President Joe Biden’s administration.
Khan said the US diplomat warned the Pakistani envoy of the consequences if Khan survived the no-confidence vote.
The prime minister subsequently requested the dissolution of parliament and slated snap elections in a decision that prompted ire from his political opposition.
Having dissolved parliament, Khan will remain in office for 15 days, during which time he must appoint an interim government to slate new elections within 90 days.
President Arif Alvi has, in the meanwhile, written to Khan and Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif to suggest names for appointment as caretaker premier.
Khan has “has suggested former Chief Justice Justice Gulzar Ahmed as caretaker prime minister,” Fawad Chaudhry, a former minister in Khan’s government, tweeted. EFE