Pakistan SC blocks Imran Khan’s bid to stay in power, terms his early election call illegal

Imran Khan. [File Photo]

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has blocked Prime Minister Imran Khan’s bid to stay in power, ruling that his move to dissolve Parliament and call early elections was illegal. The move has set the stage for a no-confidence vote by opposition lawmakers, who say they have enough support to oust him.

The decision followed four days of hearings by the top court on the political crisis. Khan had tried to sidestep the no-confidence vote by accusing his political opponents of colluding with the United States to unseat him.

Lawmakers will probably convene Saturday for the vote, and the opposition says it has the 172 votes in the 342-seat house needed to oust Khan after several members of his own party and a key coalition partner defected.

“It’s an unfortunate decision,” Khan’s ally and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told The Associated Press following the unanimous ruling by the five-member Supreme Court. He warned that “instability will increase and I see no end to the crisis.”

As per reports, the opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League and is the likely candidate for prime minister if the no-confidence vote succeeds, welcomed the ruling as a victory for “justice and the supremacy of law.”

The political crisis began Sunday when an embattled Khan dissolved Parliament and set the stage for early elections.

Chaudhry had stood in Parliament and accused the opposition of “disloyalty to the state” by working with a foreign power to bring about a “regime change.”

The deputy parliamentary speaker Qasim Suri cited Chaudhry’s allegation to toss out the no-confidence resolution, but the Supreme Court ruled that Suri had no grounds to do so.

Chaudhry did not say what Khan’s next step might be. Khan previously had called for nationwide demonstrations to protest what he called Washington’s interference in Pakistan’s affairs.

Earlier, dozens of heavily armed police backed by paramilitary Rangers surrounded Pakistan’s stately white marble Supreme Court building.

Roads leading to the court were blocked and a heavily armed contingent of police also encircled the nearby Parliamentary Lodges where opposition and government lawmakers stay when Parliament is in session.


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