Pakistan dissolves parliament, calls for early elections

(Update 1: Adds details throughout)

By Amjad Ali

Islamabad, Apr 3 (EFE).- Pakistan’s president Arif Alvi on Sunday dissolved the National Assembly and announced early elections minutes after a no-confidence motion to seek the removal of the country’s prime minister was dismissed.

The deputy speaker of the National Assembly — the parliament’s lower house —, Qasim Suri, threw out the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan, saying that it went against article 5-A of the Constitution, which states that loyalty to the State is the basic duty of every Pakistani citizen.

“I give the ruling that the no-confidence motion is contradictory to the constitution and sovereignty of the country and against the rules and procedures,” Suri said, thereby preventing the opposition from voting on a no-confidence motion against Khan after claiming that it had enough support to overthrow him.

The decision to dismiss the motion resulted in political tensions among opposition parties, which described the proceedings as “high treason.”

Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, touted to replace Khan as the new prime minister, warned that there would be consequences for the “blatant and brazen violation of the Constitution” and urged the Supreme Court to “play its role to uphold the Constitution.”

Bilawal Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), said that the government “has violated the constitution” by preventing the vote from taking place.

“The united opposition is not leaving parliament. Our lawyers are on their way to the Supreme Court. We call on all institutions to protect, uphold, defend and implement the constitution of Pakistan” he added.

The opposition coalition, which filed the petition for a motion of no confidence on March 8, claimed to have the necessary support to oust Khan in the National Assembly, in which the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has 179 out of 342 seats against the opposition’s 162. A total of 172 seats are required to maintain a majority in the assembly.

However, the tables might turn against Khan one more time if the Supreme Court decided to invalidate the decisions taken on Sunday by the government.

“The court formed a three-member bench with the chief justice in the chair,” former justice minister Fawad Chaudhry said.

“The court has asked all the political parties to remain peaceful. The court has issued notices to all concerned and the hearing is postponed till tomorrow.”

Supreme Court lawyer Faisal Chaudhry explained to Efe that this situation “has created a constitutional crisis.”

“If the court gives a verdict in favor of what happened today then the elections will be held within 90 days under a caretaker government.

“The caretaker government will be formed with the consultations of the major political parties and Imran Khan will remain the prime minister of the country.

“If the court reverses today’s proceedings, the National Assembly will remain intact and a vote of no confidence will be held which will decide on the fate of Khan.”

This was the second no-confidence motion against Khan in the past year.

The Pakistani leader won a trust vote in March 2021 after seeking a motion that was boycotted by his opponents.

Khan, whose five-year term was due to end in the summer of 2023, had claimed in recent days that this no-confidence motion was part of a conspiracy led by a foreign government for his Russian visit on the day of the Ukraine invasion.

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