Pakistan constitution crisis updates: Parliament dissolved

Prime Minister Imran Khan asks the president to dissolve parliament and hold an election after the no-confidence motion against Khan is dismissed.

Pakistan protests
No prime minister in Pakistan’s history has ever completed the full five-year term [Aamir Qureshi/AFP]
  • Pakistan’s president has dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
  • The deputy speaker declared the motion for a no-confidence vote against Khan unconstitutional and part of a plot by “foreign powers” to interfere in Pakistan’s democracy.
  • The opposition, which was hoping to unseat prime minister Khan, has cried foul.
  • Opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari says they will petition the Supreme Court against the move.
  • The opposition thought it had the votes to remove Khan after several political allies and members of his party switched sides.
  • Khan’s cabinet has been dissolved, says the information minister.

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Here were the updates on April 3:

Pakistan in grip of ‘instability’: Journalist

Pakistani journalist Benazir Shah told Al Jazeera the country seems to be in the grip of “instability and a constitutional crisis”.

“What is dangerous is that the government itself, which is tasked to protect and implement the constitution and law, is comfortable violating the constitution to stay in power,” she added.

“There was a fear, a few days before the vote, that the ruling party [Tehreek-e-Insaf or PTI] will use unconstitutional means to avoid the vote of no trust. As earlier the interior minister had suggested banning political parties or asking the Pakistan military to intervene.  The message from PTI seems to be: if we can’t rule, no one can.”

Supporters of the united opposition chant slogans outside parliament building Islamabad
Supporters of the united opposition chant slogans outside the parliament building in Islamabad, Pakistan on April 3, 2022 [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]

‘Brazenly unconstitutional move’: law expert

Salahuddin Ahmed, an advocate of the Supreme Court and constitutional expert, told Al Jazeera that calling off the vote was “clearly unconstitutional”.

His [Speaker of Parliament] job is to count the votes, not to decide whether any of the opposition members is some part of a foreign conspiracy. He cannot just throw out a motion of no-confidence,” he said.

“I don’t recall any elected civilian government in the past making such a brazenly unconstitutional move. What has effectively happened today is the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has replaced the will of the parliament with the whim of the speaker.”

Khan tells opposition to ‘accept’ elections

Pakistani PM Khan has urged opposition parties to accept his call for new elections rather than “being part of a foreign conspiracy for regime change”.

“They have been crying hoarse about how our government has failed and lost support of the people so why the fear of elections now? Democrats go to the people for support,” he said in a tweet.

Pakistan court to hear arguments on Monday: statement

Pakistan’s Supreme Court will hear arguments related to the president’s shock dissolution of parliament on Monday, a statement from the body has announced.

“This is an urgent matter. The case is fixed for tomorrow. Notices are issued to all political parties and state functionaries,” said Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial.

Cancelling vote ‘high treason’: Opposition leader

Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif has accused Pakistan PM Khan of “high treason” for calling off the no-confidence vote.

“There will be consequences for blatant and brazen violation of the Constitution. Hope Supreme Court will play it’s role to uphold the Constitution,” he tweeted.

Pakistan constitutional crisis: Key opposition leaders

Pakistan’s president has dissolved the parliament on Khan’s advice in a drama that caps weeks of machinations by the opposition to unravel a tenuous coalition Khan had built around his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party to become prime minister in 2018.

Here is a brief profile of key opposition leaders who planned the no-confidence vote against Khan.

Army says it has nothing to do with the political crisis

Pakistan’s army says it has nothing to do with the current political crisis.

“We have nothing to do with what has happened today [in parliament],” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media wing, said in a statement.

Pakistan “thrown into a constitutional crisis”

Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Islamabad, says the latest developments have thrown Pakistan into a constitutional crisis.

“[The opposition] are still at the National Assembly continuing with the session, they have elected their own parliamentary speaker and there is a shadow session under way – 195 members, according to the opposition, are present there,” Bin Javaid said.

“So, they have more than 172 members needed to elect the prime minister.”

He said the opposition is trying to appeal at the Supreme Court in order to hold the no-confidence vote today.

“It’s all in flux. Yes, the president has dissolved the National Assembly, yes the government is saying there might be elections in the next 90 days. But it’s not set in stone,” Bin Javaid said.

Calling off the no-confidence motion ‘unconstitutional’: Analyst

Tariq Azeem Khan, an Islamabad-based analyst, told Al Jazeera that rejecting the no-confidence motion is “unconstitutional” and “illegal”.

“This is all unconstitutional. This should not have been done because it was already accepted that there is going to be voting today and it should have taken place. They called it off. So, this is all illegal,” he said.

“I’m glad the Supreme Court has taken notice. And I presume there will be a full hearing of the case and we should hear something pretty shortly,” he added.

Opposition ready to contest snap polls

Opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari says they are ready to contest elections, adding that their legal team is working on a petition and will be going to the Supreme Court as the deputy speaker had no right to cancel the voting.

“We are ready for the general elections but we cannot allow violation of the rules and the constitution. They (government) want instability in Pakistan but we will once again defeat them,” Bilawal said. “The court is bound to side with the constitution of Pakistan.”

Pakistan to hold elections in 90 days: Minister

Pakistan’s state minister for information says the country will hold an election in 90 days.

Farrukh Habib made the announcement in a tweet, although a final decision will come from the president and the election commission.

Pakistan protests
Pakistan’s constitution calls for the establishment of an interim government to see the country towards elections, which are to be held within 90 days [Rahmat Gul/AP Photo]

Pakistan president dissolves National Assembly: Statement

Pakistan’s president dissolved the National Assembly on Khan’s advice, foiling an attempt by the opposition to remove the premier from office.

“The President of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi, has approved the advice of the Prime Minister,” a statement from his office said, meaning elections must be held within 90 days.

The move came minutes after the deputy speaker of the Parliament rejected a no-confidence motion against the prime minister, terming it “unconstitutional”.

Pakistan PM calls for parliament to be dissolved, fresh elections

In an address on state TV, Khan said there had been unacceptable interference in Pakistan’s democratic institutions, and an interim government should be formed to hold elections.

“I have sent advice to the president to dissolve the assemblies… We will go to the public and hold elections and let the nation decide,” he said.

“When the advice reaches the president, assemblies will be dissolved which will be followed by the process of setting up a caretaker government,” he added.

We will petition the court against blocking of vote: Bilawal

Pakistani Opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari says the joint opposition will petition the Supreme Court against the move to block the no-confidence vote.

“We have decided to hold a sit-in in the National Assembly unless voting on no-confidence motion takes place,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) told reporters.

“We are contacting the Supreme Court over this violation,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies