Pakistan latest updates: Court rules Khan’s move unconstitutional

Pakistan news from April 7: Top court rules PM Khan’s motion to dissolve Parliament and call new elections illegal.

  • Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ruled that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s move to dissolve Parliament and call for early elections was illegal.
  • The court has ordered the National Assembly or Parliament to reconvene and hold a no-confidence vote that could lead to Khan’s removal from office.
  • The political crisis erupted last week when Khan lost his parliamentary majority and was on the verge of being forced from office by a no-confidence motion tabled by the opposition.
  • But the deputy speaker of Parliament threw out the motion, ruling it was unconstitutional and part of a foreign conspiracy. Khan then dissolved Parliament.
  • The standoff has thrown the country of 220 million people, ruled by the military for extended periods since independence in 1947, into a full-blown constitutional crisis, and constitutional uncertainty in a nuclear-armed country with 220 million people.

Here’s a brief chronology of significant developments related to the formation of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and his abrupt move to dissolve Parliament:

1996: Imran Khan launched Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the justice movement.

2002: Khan wins election to become a Member of the National Assembly.

2013: Khan was again elected to the National Assembly.

2018: Khan becomes Prime Minister after leading his party to victory in the general elections.

March 3, 2021: Opposition leader and former premier Yusuf Raza Gilani defeat Pakistan’s Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in Senate elections.

March 6, 2021: Imran Khan wins a trust vote in National Assembly following the defeat of his finance minister.

March 8, 2022: Pakistan’s Leader of the Opposition and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif tabled a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly against Khan, accusing his government of being unable to handle the economic crisis in the country.

Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri asked the members of the Parliament, who are in favour of the motion, to stand up so that their numbers could be counted.

Sharif first moved a resolution to allow tabling of the no-confidence motion, which was approved by 161 yes votes. March 19, 2022: Khan issued show-cause notices to dissent PTI lawmakers for alleged defection and sought an explanation by March 26, asking why they may not be declared defectors and disqualified as a member of the NA.

Nearly two dozen dissident lawmakers of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party recently came out in the open ahead of voting on a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Khan, with the government accusing opposition parties of horse-trading.

 

March 20, 2022: Speaker Asad Qaiser summoned a National Assembly session on March 25 to take up the no-trust motion against Khan.

“Pakistan’s National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has summoned a session of the Lower House at the Parliament House in Islamabad on Friday at 11 am,” Radio Pakistan had reported.

 

March 23, 2022: Khan said he would not resign even as three allies indicated that they would vote against his government.

“I will not resign under any circumstances. I will play till the last ball… and I will surprise them [the Opposition] a day before as they are still under pressure,” Khan had said, without revealing further details.

He told the media that the Opposition had laid all of their cards, but the no-confidence motion against him would not be successful. “My trump card is that I have not laid any of my cards yet,” he had said.

However, there was a growing indication that Khan was losing support. At least three allies, the MQM-P, the PML-Q, and the BAP, with their 17 members, have indicated to join the Opposition.

March 25, 2022: Pakistan’s National Assembly session was adjourned without tabling the no-trust motion against Khan.

Speaker Qaiser said that the session was adjourned until 4 pm on March 28 due to the demise of PTI lawmaker Khayal Zaman.

According to Pakistan’s parliamentary conventions, the first sitting after the death of a lawmaker is limited to prayers for the departed soul and tributes from fellow lawmakers.

Opposition leaders protested against the adjournment of the session.

March 27, 2022: At a massive rally in Islamabad, Imran Khan claimed foreign powers were behind the “conspiracy” to overthrow his government. Addressing a rally attended by thousands of supporters who were bussed in from around the country, the PM claimed he was the subject of a “foreign conspiracy” aimed at dislodging his government and that “funding was being channelled into Pakistan from abroad.”

“We have been threatened in writing, but we will not compromise on national interests,” he said, without offering evidence or details. March 28: PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif tables a no-trust motion against PM Khan in National Assembly.

March 28, 2022: PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif tabled the no-trust motion against Khan, setting in motion the process in the lower house to remove the embattled cricketer-turned-politician from office.

Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri asked the members of the Parliament, who are in favour of the motion, to stand up so that their numbers could be counted. Sharif first moved a resolution to allow tabling of the no-confidence motion in the NA, which was approved by 161 yes votes.

 

March 30, 2022: Khan lost the majority after MQM-P, a vital ally of the PTI-led coalition government, sided with the Opposition. The MQM-P announced that it had parted ways with the government during a joint press conference of the opposition parties in Islamabad.

“We want to make a new beginning for politics of tolerance and true democracy,” MQM-P chief Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui told reporters.

 

March 31, 2022: The Pakistan Parliament met to debate the no-trust motion. The assembly secretariat issued a 24-point agenda for the session, and the no-confidence motion was fourth on the list.

The session was adjourned abruptly until April 3, after opposition lawmakers demanded an immediate vote on the motion.

April 1, 2022: Imran Khan said that he had credible information that his life was in danger while stating he was not afraid and would continue his fight for an independent and democratic nation. He further said that early elections were the best option if he survived the no-confidence motion.

“Let me inform my nation that my life is at risk too. They have also planned for my character assassination. Not only myself but my wife too,” the beleaguered PM said.

Khan, who spoke to ARY News, said the “establishment” gave him three options – the no-confidence vote, early elections, or resignation as the prime minister. But the defiant leader refused to step down.

April 3, 2022: The day will go down as one of the most dramatic days in the recent history of Pakistan politics. Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri blocked the no-trust motion against the PM, and Pakistan President Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of Khan.

The Opposition was stunned and said they would challenge the order in the Pakistan Supreme Court.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said that all orders and actions initiated by the prime minister and President regarding the dissolution of the National Assembly would be subject to the court’s ruling, Dawn reported.

However, in a dramatic move, the Opposition approved the no-confidence motion against Khan in its session of Parliament after it was dissolved by the President and declared that the no-trust motion was “successful” with nearly 200 votes.

The result of the vote was announced by PML(N) leader and former speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, who presided over the sitting on Sunday as a member of the panel of chairpersons that Speaker Asad Qaiser had announced at the start of the National Assembly session on March 25, the Dawn reported.

The Opposition declared the proceedings legal and valid, although it was conducted without the secretariat staff support and the sound system. They declared the no-confidence motion against Khan successful with 197 votes. It also reportedly announced that Shehbaz Sharif was the new PM.

 

April 4, 2022: 

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has now received a slew of suits and petitions from the government and Opposition regarding the crisis. Still, it has also taken up the case “suo moto” — on its merit.

“The Supreme Court’s top judge, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who took suo moto notice of the development late on Sunday, said that all directions issued by Khan and President Arif Alvi would be subject to the court’s orders. This is an urgent matter,” chief justice Umar Atta Bandial said late Sunday.

Chief Justice Bandial said on Monday that the apex court would issue a “reasonable order” on the legality of the current situation in the country. During today’s hearing, the court rejected a plea by Farooq H. Naek, who is representing the PPP and other opposition parties, forming a full-court bench to hear the matter.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday resumed the hearing on the case filed by the joint Opposition over the dismissal of a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan and the subsequent dissolution of Parliament by the President, a day after adjourning the proceedings after promising to give a “reasonable order” in the high-profile case. 

The apex court had taken a Suo moto cognizance of the current political situation in the country. A five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial began proceedings at noon. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani and senior counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan presented their arguments before the court.

The full five-member bench of the Pakistan Supreme Court unanimously decided on Thursday, April 6, 2022, to quash deputy speaker Qasim Suri’s decision to dismiss the Opposition’s no-confidence motion against the Imran Khan government. The order also reversed President Arif Alvi’s order to dissolve Parliament on the prime minister’s recommendation.

In a brief order, the bench said, “All actions, acts or proceedings initiated, done or taken by reasons of, or to give effect to the President’s order, are of no legal effect and result from this quashed. Accordingly, the assembly was at all times and continues to remain in session, as summoned by the speaker on March 20, & any prorogation of the assembly by the speaker before its dissolution is of no legal effect, and is set aside.” 

The apex court directed National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser to summon Saturday’s session and get the no-trust vote started “not later than 10.30 am”. “If the no-confidence motion against the PM succeeds, then the assembly will appoint a new PM,” states the court’s order. 

In exercise of his powers, the speaker shall not prorogue the assembly and bring the session to an end, “except if the no-confidence resolution is defeated, then at any time thereafter, and if the no-confidence resolution is successful, then at any time once a prime minister is elected.”

Following the Supreme Court’s decision on the no-confidence vote, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called a cabinet meeting on Friday and announced that he would address the nation on the day.

On Thursday, April 7, 2022 the Supreme Court of Pakistan restored the National Assembly after declaring the government’s decision to dissolve the assembly and NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s decision “unconstitutional.”

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial read out the decision and said the steps taken for the formation of a caretaker government ahead of elections were also unconstitutional.

Reaction of politicians

 

Imran Khan

“I have called a cabinet meeting tomorrow and our parliamentary party meeting; & tomorrow evening, I will address the nation. My message to our nation is I always have & will continue to fight for Pak till the last ball,” the 69-year-old cricketer-turned-politician tweeted.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan says he will continue to fight as he faces an ouster vote.

On Thursday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he would continue to fight as he faces a vote to oust him and will address the nation on Friday. The court earlier on Thursday overturned a move by Khan to block a parliamentary vote seeking to oust him. He will now have to face the vote on Saturday.

The meeting of the Parliamentary Committee will also be held tomorrow, and the Prime Minister will address the nation tomorrow night: Pakistan’s The Nation quotes PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry (ANI)

Imran calls a cabinet meeting to address the nation on Friday.

 

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari:

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari celebrated the verdict, “Democracy is the best revenge!”.

Maryam Nawaz:

Congratulating the nation, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said that Shehbaz Sharif would become the next Prime Minister.

Fawad Chaudhry:

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) expectedly expressed disappointment over the top court’s ruling, with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry calling it an “unfortunate decision.”

“Immediate elections could have brought stability to the country. But, unfortunately, the importance of the people has been overlooked,” he tweeted.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Political Communication Dr. Shahbaz Gill claimed that Pakistan had returned to the same situation as 1947, continuing to claim foreign conspiracy behind toppling the Imran Khan-led government.

Election Commission of Pakistan:

Notably, the Election Commission of Pakistan had stated that it was impossible to hold a general election in three months as announced by PTI due to the ongoing delimitation of electoral districts and proposed that they be held in October.

Pakistan’s apex court has set aside all the subsequent steps taken after rejecting the no-confidence vote as it reinstated the National Assembly. It declared that the Prime Minister and Federal Ministers, Ministers of State, Advisers, etc., stand restored to their respective offices as of April 3.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan:

“HRCP welcomes the unanimous Supreme Court judgment restoring the national assembly and calling for the vote of no confidence to be held. However, it was critical for the court not to compromise on any aspect of the Constitution,” the HRCP said in a statement.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the rights commission said this decision by Pakistan Supreme Court would have a long-term effect on strengthening constitutional democracy.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HCRP) has welcomed the unanimous court judgment restoring the country’s national assembly and calling for the vote of no confidence to be held against Pakistan PM Imran Khan. (ANI)

Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif:

I want to congratulate everyone in the country. People have gotten rid of such a person who ruined the country. He made common people starve. The dollar has reached 200 today, and people are frustrated with inflation in the country.

Shehbaz Sharif:

Pakistani opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif says allies have nominated him as the next prime minister once PM Khan ousted

On Thursday, Pakistani opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif said his allies had nominated him as the next prime minister if they could vote out Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday. Sharif was addressing a joint press conference and other opposition leaders who won a court case earlier on Thursday that overturned a move by Khan to dodge the ouster vote and dissolve the lower house of parliament.

“…it is declared that the prime minister and federal ministers, ministers of state, advisers, etc. stand restored to their respective offices”: Supreme Court verdict.