Pakistan will go to early elections after Prime Minister Imran Khan received the presidential nod for dissolution of the Parliament, foiling a bid by the opposition parties to unseat him as the nation’s head.
Here are the latest developments in the political crisis that is unfolding in the country
On a day of high drama, the assembly deputy speaker refused to accept a motion of no confidence in the government, as Khan simultaneously appeared on TV to say there had been “foreign interference” in Pakistan’s democratic institutions.
“Prepare for elections. No corrupt forces will decide what the future of the country will be. When the assemblies will be dissolved, the procedure for the next elections and the caretaker government will begin,” Imran Khan said.
Imran Khan was widely expected to lose the no-confidence motion moved by an alliance of Opposition politicians in the National Assembly — including more than a dozen defectors from his own political party.
Khan, who had effectively lost majority in the 342-member National Assembly, made a brief address to the nation in which he said he has recommended dissolution of the House and sought fresh elections. Pakistani media reported that general elections will be held within 90 days.
The stunned Opposition termed the entire process to reject the no-confidence motion against the prime minister and dissolution of assembly against the Constitution and its lawmakers refused to leave the premises of the parliament house which was protected by security personnel.
The opposition, headed by the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), immediately filed a slew of petitions and briefs against and for the developments, with the supreme court saying arguments would be heard on Monday.
No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term in office.
Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif said that Khan and all others involved in the “conspiracy” against the nation are guilty of high treason and should be tried for desecrating the Constitution.
Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa has at least twice met Prime Minister Khan last week.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Sunday barred all state institutions from taking any “extra-constitutional” steps in the wake of the dismissal of the no-confidence vote in the National Assembly against Prime Minister Khan.
The combined opposition filed the no-confidence motion on March 8 against Khan for mismanaging the economy. Khan has rejected the charges and went on to allege that he was being targeted by a “foreign conspiracy” with the collaboration of top Opposition leaders.
For months, Khan has been battling depleting foreign exchange reserves and double digit inflation.
Some analysts said Khan had also lost the crucial support of the military — claims both sides deny — but it is unlikely he would have pulled off Sunday’s manoeuvre without its knowledge, if not blessing.
There have been four military coups — and at least as many unsuccessful ones — since independence in 1947, and the country has spent more than three decades under army rule.
A wary China keeps an eye
A wary China on Sunday kept a close watch on the rapid political developments in Pakistan – its all-weather ally – after the Parliament in Islamabad was dissolved over Prime Minister Imran Khan’s allegation that there was American hand behind the Opposition parties no-confidence motion against him.
While there is no official comment here yet, the state-run media highlighted Khan’s allegations of US hand behind the opposition no confidence motion against him, which was cited as a reason by Qasim Khan Suri, deputy speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly, to reject the opposition’s no-confidence motion against the government.
State-run Xinhua reported the political drama unfolding in Islamabad leading to Pakistan President Arif Alvi approving Khan’s recommendation for the dissolution of the Parliament.
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