Pakistan’s Supreme Court has reinstated parliament and ordered a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The Pakistan Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government’s dissolution of the National Assembly last week, as well as the deputy speaker’s decision to prevent voting on a no-confidence motion against him, were both “unconstitutional,” and ordered that the speaker convene a session on Saturday to hold the vote.

The carefully awaited decision resolves a constitutional snafu that has bedeviled the country since Sunday, when the National Assembly’s deputy speaker, Qasim Suri, blocked a no-trust vote that would have effectively removed Khan from power. He argued that the motion was unconstitutional because it was part of a “foreign plot,” citing Article 5 of the constitution, which deals with state allegiance.

On Khan’s urging, the president then dissolved the lower house of parliament.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled unanimously that the deputy speaker’s Sunday decision was “contrary to the Constitution and the law, and of no legal consequence.”
As a result, the court ruled that the National Assembly’s subsequent dissolution was likewise unlawful.

“The prime minister’s suggestion to the president on or about April 3 to dissolve the Assembly was contrary to the Constitution and of no legal effect,” the court said quickly.
“It is declared that the president’s decree dissolving the Assembly on or about April 3 was contrary to the Constitution and had no legal effect, and it is hereby set aside.” It is further affirmed that the Assembly has existed at all times and will continue to exist.”

The court also ordered National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to call a session for voting on the no-confidence resolution on April 9 at 10 a.m.

“If the resolution is passed by the required majority (the no-confidence resolution is successful), then a prime minister may take office at any moment after being elected in accordance with Article 91 of the Constitution and Rule 32 of the Rules,” the court said.

Chief Justice Bandial presided over a five-member bigger bench that included Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Aijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel.
Khan had lost his parliamentary majority before the no-trust motion was put to a vote last Sunday, after significant coalition partners stated they would vote with the opposition in the vote, and more than 20 members from Khan’s own party also deserted.

After the ruling, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rahman, the leader of an opposition alliance opposing the government, told reporters, “This is a triumph for all of Pakistan, the constitution, and democracy.”
In an emergency meeting on Thursday, Pakistan’s Central Bank boosted its benchmark policy rate by 250 basis points to 12.25 percent, stating that a reduction in domestic political instability would be required to enable Pakistan’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the midst of the political turmoil, declining foreign exchange reserves, and a blocked International Monetary Fund lending facility, the rupee touched a new historic low of RS188.18 versus the US dollar.

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