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Pakistan’s Supreme Court may issue verdict Thursday amid political chaos

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A file photo by AFP shows the premises of Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court is likely to rule on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s move to block an opposition attempt to remove him.

The court on Wednesday resumed its deliberations on the legality of Khan’s act to block a no-confidence vote against him and dissolve the parliament.

Ali Zafar, a lawyer for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, told the panel of five judges that the court should not engage in parliamentary procedure. “My humble submission would be that if your lordships start monitoring parliamentary affairs, there would be no end to that.”

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said he wanted to wrap up the hearings. “Let’s start early from tomorrow to conclude the case.” The Supreme Court will reconvene on Thursday at about 9:30 a.m. (0430 GMT).

The top court of Pakistan received a slew of petitions after the deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament refused to allow a no-confidence motion brought by the joint opposition against the Khan administration. The deputy speaker declared the motion unconstitutional, saying it is part of a plot by what he called “foreign powers” to interfere in Pakistan’s democracy. Simultaneously, President Arif Alvi dissolved the parliament on the prime minister’s advice.

Alvi is asking the Election Commission to consider a date for a vote, which should be within 90 days of the April 3 dissolution.

As the court considers legality of the political maneuvering, it could order parliament to be reconstituted, call for fresh elections, or bar Khan from power if he is found to have violated the constitution. It could also decide that it cannot intervene in parliamentary affairs.

Khan has accused the United States of being behind a parliament debate on the no-confidence motion, saying the move is an attempt at regime change backed by Washington. The Pakistani premier had earlier accused an unnamed foreign power of funding a “conspiracy” to topple his democratically-elected government.

Khan would have been the first prime minister of Pakistan to be removed through a vote of no-confidence. The cricketer-turned-politician stands accused by the opposition of mishandling the economy and foreign policy since 2018. His embattled government has been banking on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to release a 6-billion-dollar rescue package, but the move has been obstructed by Washington.

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