Pakistan headed for snap elections after President dissolves National Assembly

Islamabad, April 3 : Pakistan was on Sunday headed for snap elections after President Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan after the Deputy Speaker rejected the no-trust motion against the prime minister, saying that the government cannot be changed “on the directives of foreign powers” – meaning the US. Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his address to nation, announced that he had proposed to President Arif Alvi to dissolve the assembly. Imran’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) effectively lost its majority in the 342-member assembly last week when a coalition partner said its seven lawmakers would vote with the opposition. Khan has accused the opposition of conspiring with “foreign powers” to remove him because he won’t take the West’s side on global issues against Russia and China. Earlier this week he accused the ted States of meddling in Pakistan’s affairs. In the National Assembly, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri dashed the Opposition’s hopes of ousting Imran Khan by rejecting the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister, terming it against Article 5 of the Constitution. The Opposition parties declared the rejection of the no-confidence move unconstitutional. Later, the Opposition held their own National Assembly session, in which nearly 180 Members voted in favour of the “no-confidence motion” – well over the 172 figure required to remove the PM. Earlier, when the much-awaited NA session started, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri gave the mic to Law Minister Fawad Chauhdry who said that the Opposition’s no-confidence move was backed by a foreign state and therefore cannot be allowed to be voted. He maintained that Pakistan’s ambassador to the US was told that their relations with Islamabad depended on the success of the no-trust motion. Chaudhry said that the Pakistani ambassador was told that Islamabad would be “pardoned” if the no-trust motion against Imran succeeds. But if the no-trust resolution fails, the country will have to face its consequences, Fawad Chaudhry told the house. He termed the no-trust motion a conspiracy hatched by a foreign country to change the regime in Pakistan. On this, Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri rejected the no-trust motion and declared it against Article 5 of the Constitution. He maintained that the government cannot be changed in Pakistan on the directives of foreign powers. The NA deputy speaker declared that no foreign power will be allowed to topple an elected government through a conspiracy in Pakistan and adjourned the session for an indefinite period. Reacting to the situation, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif said that Article 6 of the Constitution will be applied to Imran Khan and the National Assembly Speaker for committing “high treason”. Article 6 says: “Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.” Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari announced he would move the Supreme Court against the Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri. Bilawal said the government has violated the constitution by not allowing voting on the no-confidence motion. He maintained that they have the majority and have the required numbers to dislodge the prime minister. “The speaker committed an unconstitutional act at the final stage. The constitution of Pakistan has been violated and the p shment for violating the constitution is clear.” Bilawal said that they have already submitted a no-trust motion against the NA speaker. He said that PM Imran Khan has exposed himself before the nation and urged the masses to support democracy and the Constitution. Meanwhile, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial on Sunday evening took notice of the political situation in the country. The Chief Justice reached the top court after President Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly. The development comes after the Opposition leaders demanded to review the “unconstitutional” ruling given by National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri. The apex court has adjourned the hearing till Monday. Commenting on today’s development, CJP Bandial said that the law-and-order situation should be maintained. “This is an important matter and a hearing will be held tomorrow,” he said, barring all political parties and government departments from taking advantage of the ongoing situation. Regarding the Opposition’s petition, he said that a hearing would be fixed for PPP’s petition. RN

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