Pakistan Supreme Court annuls dissolution of National Assembly

Opposition party activists show their joy after Pakistan's Supreme Court overturned the dissolution of the National Assembly on April 7, 2022. (Photo Aamir QURESHI / AFP)

The Supreme Court of Pakistan annulled, on Thursday, April 7, the dissolution of the National Assembly and ordered that the motion of censure presented against the Prime Minister, Imran Khan, be voted on. A victory for the Pakistani opposition that seems capable of overthrowing the head of government. “The National Assembly is still in session”ruled the Court, which ordered to meet again on Saturday to put the motion to a vote.

“This decision saved Pakistan and its Constitution. It has increased the honor and dignity of the Court.”reacted the leader of the opposition in the Assembly, Shahbaz Sharif, leader of the Muslim League of Pakistan (PML-N), and aimed to become prime minister if the motion of censure is approved.

The verdict was greeted with effervescence in Islamabad by opposition supporters, who stormed the streets in cars honking their horns. A strong police presence could also be observed in the capital.

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maneuvers and accusations

The country’s highest court has considered “unconstitutional and without legal effect” the refusal of the vice-president of the National Assembly, faithful to Mr. Khan, to put this motion to a vote on Sunday, which had made it possible to prevent the head of government from being overthrown.

The opposition had announced that it had won enough votes to lose the parliamentary majority to Khan, 69, a former cricket star who won the election in 2018. But it was surprised by the last-minute maneuver of the Vice-President of the Assembly, that he had refused to vote on the motion on the grounds that it was unconstitutional, as a result of a “foreign interference”.

Imran Khan had repeatedly accused the United States in recent days of interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs with the complicity of the opposition, whose betrayal he denounced. He blamed Washington, which denied any involvement, for wanting to remove him because of his refusal to align with US positions on Russia and China.

The head of government then obtained, on Sunday, from the President of the Republic, Arif Alvi, another of his allies, the dissolution of the Assembly, which automatically led to the calling of early legislative elections within 90 days.

A succession of political crises

Therefore, there will be no elections immediately after the Supreme Court ruling and Mr. Khan now appears to have no chance of surviving the vote of no confidence.

Pakistan, a nuclear-armed Islamic republic of 220 million, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is accustomed to political crises.

No prime minister has ever completed his term in this country, which since independence in 1947 has seen four successful military coups and at least as many attempted coups, and has spent more than three decades under military rule.

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Le Monde and AFP

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