Pakistan’s top court will meet later on Monday to decide on the fate of Prime Minister Imran Khan, after his party blocked a no-confidence vote.
- Imran Khan dissolved parliament to avoid being removed as Prime Minister
- He says moves to oust him are unconstitutional and part of a US-led foreign conspiracy
- The Supreme Court will rule if Mr Khan can stay on as PM ahead of an election within 90 days
He dissolved parliament in a surprise move to prevent his ousting from the leadership.
The 69-year-old, who led Pakistan to World Cup cricket success as national captain on Australian soil in 1992, lost his majority in parliament last week as his opponents built their support.
Mr Khan was facing a no-confidence motion tabled by the opposition on Sunday, but the Deputy Speaker of parliament — a member of his party — blocked the motion that Mr Khan was widely expected to lose.
He ruled it was part of a foreign conspiracy and unconstitutional.
The move throws the nuclear-armed nation, which the military has ruled for almost half its history, into a full-blown constitutional crisis, with Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif calling the blocking of the vote “nothing short of high treason”.
“The nation is stunned,” the English-language newspaper, Dawn, said in an editorial.
“Even as political pundits and the media confidently predicted Mr Imran Khan’s defeat in the vote of no-confidence, he seemed unperturbed.
The largely ceremonial head of state, President Arif Alvi, said on Twitter on Monday that Mr Khan would stay on as Prime Minister in a caretaker role.
Mr Khan wants a general election within 90 days, but that decision officially rests with the President and the election commission.
The Supreme Court may order that parliament be reconstituted, call for a new election, or bar Mr Khan from standing again if he is found to have acted unconstitutionally.
The court may also decide that it cannot intervene in parliamentary affairs.
Mr Khan says he did not act unconstitutionally, calling the move to oust him a plot orchestrated by the United States — a claim Washington denies.
Political analysts say the military regarded Mr Khan’s conservative, nationalist agenda favourably when he won power in 2018 but later cooled towards him over various matters.
The military denies involvement in civilian politics but the generals are unlikely to stand by if they believe political chaos is damaging the country or if their core interests are threatened.