The Supreme Court of Pakistan has declared that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to dissolve parliament was illegal and has ordered parliamentarians to return to their seats within two days, a decision that could mark the end of his tenure as prime minister.
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Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered the re-constitutionalization of the parliament after ruling that its dissolution was illegal.
PM Imran Khan had dissolved the lower chamber in advance of a no-confidence vote against him, which he appeared to be on the verge of winning.
It is possible that Mr Khan could be defeated in the no-confidence vote, and the opposition will be able to pick its own prime minister and retain control of the government until August 2023.
In advance of a no-confidence vote against him that appeared to be headed his way, the former cricketer moved to dissolve the lower house.
According to the court’s ruling, the vote will now take place as scheduled.
According to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umar Ata Bandial, the advise given by the Prime Minister to the President on or about March 3, 2022, to dissolve the Assembly was “contrary to the Constitution and of no legal consequence.” Bandial read out a 13-point order to a packed courtroom.
When the unanimous decision was announced, dozens of members of the opposition gathered outside the towering white stone edifice and erupted in celebration.
In the nuclear-armed nation of 220 million people, the constitutional crisis has jeopardized economic and social stability, with the rupee plunging to record lows earlier on Thursday and foreign exchange reserves plummeting.
Last week, when opposition parties banded together against Mr Khan in order to push for a no-confidence motion, the deputy speaker of parliament, who happens to be a member of Mr Khan’s party, ruled that the motion was unconstitutional and that it was part of a foreign conspiracy.
Imran Khan is dressed in white and holding his hands together in the shape of a triangle.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is now facing a no-confidence motion, which could result in his losing his position as leader of the country’s government.
(Photo courtesy of Reuters’ Saiyna Bashir)
According to the judgement on Thursday, Mr Khan’s stint in office could be brought to an early conclusion in a country where no elected leader has served out their full term in office.
The 69-year-old former captain of Pakistan’s cricket team, which won the World Cup in 1992, was elected president of the country in 2018 after rallying the people behind his vision of a corruption-free, rich society that is respected on the international arena.
Although the fiery nationalist is well-known and charismatic, it appears that his popularity and charisma may not be enough to maintain him in power.
He was unable to deliver on all of his lofty promises and failed to prevent the onset of an economic downturn that was exacerbated in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Khan has scheduled a cabinet meeting for Friday, during which he will also deliver a speech to the nation.
If Mr Khan were to lose the no-confidence vote, the opposition would be able to appoint its own prime minister and retain control of the government until August 2023, at which point new elections would be required.
Shehbaz Sharif, a member of the powerful Sharif political dynasty, said after the court verdict that he had been selected by supporters in the opposition to take over as prime minister if Mr Khan were to be removed from office.
A man speaks with his hands raised in front of him.
Shehbaz Sherif, the leader of the opposition, has been selected to replace Mr Khan in the event of his ouster.
(Photo courtesy of Reuters’ Akhtar Soomro)
The opposition has stated that it wants early elections, but only after it has delivered a political defeat to Mr Khan and passed laws that it believes is necessary to ensure that the next elections are free and fair. Mr Khan has stated that he does not want early elections.
Pakistan’s election commission announced on Thursday that the polls would be held no later than October.
It will be in the interests of economic authorities to see the crisis resolved as quickly as feasible. Pakistan is in the midst of a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, which the country sorely needs in order to shore up its hard currency reserves.
During the country’s wait for the court ruling on Thursday, the Pakistani rupee suffered a severe beating, falling to new record lows.
As part of an emergency meeting, the central bank boosted its policy rate by 250 basis points to 12.25 per cent, marking the largest increase in several years.
“A huge economic collapse is staring the country in the face as [the] dollar continues to climb,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated in a Twitter message.
The situation also poses a threat to Pakistan’s relationship with its long-time friend, the United States, which Mr Khan has accused of being behind a conspiracy to destabilize the country’s government. Washington, on the other hand, rejects this.
Mr Khan and his conservative agenda were first seen favorably by the country’s powerful military, according to some political observers, but that backing has faded in recent months. Mr Khan has categorically denied receiving their support.
Since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, the military has intervened to depose civilian governments and seize control on three times, citing the necessity to put an end to political uncertainty.