Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturns dissolution of National Assembly

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The Supreme Court of Pakistan annulled, Thursday, April 7, the dissolution of the National Assembly and ordered that it proceed to the vote on the motion of no confidence presented against the Prime Minister, Imran Khan. A victory for the Pakistani opposition which seems able to overthrow the head of government. “The National Assembly continues to remain in session”ruled the Court, which ordered that it reassemble 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 to the Assembly, Shahbaz Sharif, leader of the Muslim League of Pakistan (PML-N), and tipped to become prime minister if the motion of censure is approved.

The judgment was greeted with effervescence in Islamabad by opposition supporters, who filled the streets in cars, to the sound of car 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, a faithful of Mr. Khan, to submit this motion to the vote on Sunday, which had enabled the head of government to avoid being overthrown.

The opposition had announced that it had won enough votes to lose its parliamentary majority to Mr. Khan, 69, a former cricket star who won the elections in 2018. But it was surprised by the vice’s last-minute maneuver -President of the Assembly, who had refused to vote on the motion on the grounds that it was unconstitutional, as resulting from a “foreign interference”.

Imran Khan had several times in recent days accused the United States of interfering in Pakistani internal affairs with the complicity of the opposition, whose treachery he denounced. He blamed Washington, who denied any involvement, for wanting to get him out, because of his refusal to align himself with American 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 convening of early legislative elections within 90 days.

A succession of political crises

There will therefore be no elections immediately after the Supreme Court’s judgment and Mr. Khan now seems to have no chance of surviving the motion of no confidence.

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

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

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Le Monde and AFP

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