Pakistan political crisis updates: Supreme Court adjourns hearing

The top court on April 5 adjourned hearing on pleas asking whether Imran Khan had legal right to dissolve parliament and call for early polls.

Pakistan political crisis
A motorcyclist rides past a billboard with the picture of PM Imran Khan displayed outside the National Assembly in Islamabad [Anjum Naveed/AP]
  • Pakistan’s top court has again adjourned the hearing of arguments on whether Prime Minister Imran Khan had the legal right to dissolve parliament and call for early elections.
  • On Sunday, Khan’s ally and deputy parliament speaker, Qasim Suri, dissolved the National Assembly to sidestep a no-confidence vote that Khan appeared certain to lose.
  • The opposition claims the deputy speaker had no constitutional authority to throw out the no-confidence vote and claims it was a ploy by Khan to stay in power.
  • This live blog is now closed. Thank you for joining us. Here are the updates for April 5, 2022:

Top court adjourns hearing on opposition pleas

Pakistan’s top court has once again deferred a decision on the legality of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s actions in blocking an attempt to remove him.

A five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial is hearing multiple petitions filed by the opposition parties challenging Khan’s decision to dissolve parliament and call for early elections.

The court adjourned the hearing till 11:30am (0600 GMT) on Wednesday and asked the petitioners and respondents to complete their arguments on that day.

“We will try to announce a verdict tomorrow,” the chief justice said.

Court asks for no-confidence motion proceedings

The Supreme Court has sought a record of National Assembly proceedings on the no-confidence motion moved by the opposition against Khan’s government.

The top court issued the directive on the second day of hearing on the legality of deputy speaker of parliament dismissing the motion against Khan without holding a vote.

Pakistan political crisis
Pakistan opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif talks to reporters outside the Supreme Court [Anjum Naveed/AP]

‘Shameless interference’ by US in Pakistan: Russia

Russia has accused the United States of “another attempt of shameless interference” in the internal affairs of Pakistan, according to media reports.

“Immediately after the announcement of the working visit of Imran Khan to Moscow on February 23-24 this year, the Americans and their Western associates began to exert rude pressure on the prime minister, demanding an ultimatum to cancel the trip,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Facebook, according to a report in Dawn newspaper.

PM Khan has alleged that a senior US official threatened Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, DC about a regime change in Islamabad.

“The [Pakistan] prime minister himself has repeatedly stated that the conspiracy against him was inspired and financed from abroad,” said the statement.

‘Ready for fresh elections, but…’

The Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is ready for fresh general elections, but the “abrogation of constitution could not be overlooked”, says party leader and former defence minister Khawaja Asif.

The party, like other opposition groups, has also filed a petition in Supreme Court against the ruling of parliament’s deputy speaker that dismissed a no-confidence vote against PM Khan.

Five-judge bench hears pleas in top court

A five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial is hearing multiple petitions filed by Pakistan’s opposition parties challenging Khan’s decision to dissolve parliament and call for early elections.

Senator Farooq H Naek of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is pleading the case in the top court on behalf of the opposition. Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan is representing the government while former law minister and senior lawyer Babar Awan will plead on behalf of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

Pakistan political crisis
Supporters of Khan’s PTI party light up their mobile phones and chant slogans during a rally in Islamabad [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]

Top opposition leader demands ‘conspiracy’ proof

Main opposition leader Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has demanded that the Pakistani army chief and head of spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), submit evidence to prove the opposition parties were part of an alleged foreign conspiracy to topple Khan’s government.

Addressing reporters before the crucial Supreme Court hearing, Sharif said the establishment should come forward with evidence and let the opposition know whether it had approved minutes of a National Security Committee (NSC) meeting.

“Imran Khan has declared 196 members of the House as traitors through a ruling of the deputy speaker. If you have the evidence, then submit it before the court,” Sharif said.

Khan had accused a senior US official of conspiracy and claimed he had a letter to prove it. The NSC discussed the allegation and concluded “the communication (letter) amounted to blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan”.

How Pakistan’s political crisis could play out

Legal experts say that how the Supreme Court rules on Khan’s actions could have major implications for democracy in Pakistan, where no prime minister has yet fulfilled a full term and where the military has ruled for nearly half of the country’s history.

A look at possible scenarios as the country’s top court looks into the legality of Khan’s moves.

Ex-PM: Pakistan could ‘plunge into anarchy’

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has told Al Jazeera the country’s constitution has been “blatantly violated” by Khan’s government.

“If the decisions of the Supreme Court are also violated, then the country will plunge into anarchy,” the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader said.

“We expect the Supreme Court to defend the Constitution and set the course for the future of the political system as per the provisions of the Constitution and the aspirations of the people of Pakistan.”

Elections not possible in three months: Poll panel

The Election Commission of Pakistan has expressed its inability to conduct general elections within three months, saying there are legal hitches and procedural challenges, according to a report in the Dawn newspaper.

A senior poll panel official told the English language newspaper that preparations for the general elections would require some six months.

Khan’s move ‘subversion of constitution’: Analyst

Ahmad Bilal Mehboob of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency (PILDAT) has told Al Jazeera that the deputy speaker’s ruling on the vote of no-confidence was not only unconstitutional but also a subversion of the constitution.

“Since everything was seemingly preplanned, the constitutional violations [by the government] were attempts to subvert the constitution,” he said.

“Speaker could only have held voting and it was the right to the members to either accept or reject no-confidence motion.”

(Al Jazeera)
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies