Supreme Court rules no vote of no confidence in Imran Khan of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistani PM strikes politically on Thursday night in his quest to seize power when the country’s Supreme Court rejected his efforts to dissolve parliament and repeal the no-confidence vote four days earlier, a move that has exacerbated already strained relations with the United States.

Imran Khan, trying to stay in power as prime minister and save his shaky government, accused U.S. officials of supporting an international conspiracy against him in colluding with his domestic opponents, a coalition of opposition parties and defectors from his own ranks. He organized a plan to cancel the vote and dissolve the legislature, which caused unrest and uncertainty across the country with a population of 220 million.

But as a result of a unanimous vote, the Supreme Court ordered the immediate resumption of parliament and a no-confidence vote on Saturday. Opponents of Khan had already garnered enough votes to oust him from power when the vote was abruptly canceled Sunday after a speaker of the legislature considered it illegal, saying his supporters were backed by a foreign state.

When the court ruling was announced on Thursday, shouts and shouts rose among opposition leaders and supporters waiting outside the courthouse as the Pakistani capital darkened and hundreds of police barricaded the surrounding streets.

“The court saved Pakistan and the constitution with this historic verdict,” said Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the opposition Pakistani Muslim League, who testified during three days of court hearings on the issue. “This will strengthen the country’s parliament and sovereignty. … Our struggle was for the supremacy of the constitution. We are more than happy and we thank God for that. ”

У tweet after the rulingKhan said he would address the nation on Friday. “I will always continue to fight for Pak until the last goal,” said the former cricket champion. If Khan is ousted on Saturday, Sharif, a veteran politician from one of Pakistan’s two main parties, could be appointed interim prime minister and then seek election to the post.

The Supreme Court’s decision, which strongly rejects Khan’s efforts to circumvent the legislative process, seemed to strengthen a sense of stability and legitimacy in the country’s weak democratic system, which has suffered from repeated military and other government interference since it was founded in 1947.

The ruling has already been seen by some U.S. analysts as an encouraging step away from the breach, after Khan’s accusations of conspiracy against him raised concerns over relations between the two former Cold War allies in a state of unprecedented confrontation. At the same time, some warn that any new government in Pakistan will face the same challenges, especially with rising inflation, which has cost Khan much of its initial popularity.

Michael Kugelman, an expert on Pakistan from the Wilson International Science Center in Washington, said last week that Khan’s actions had dealt a “devastating blow to US-Pakistani relations” and that “it will be extremely difficult to get back to business.” as usual. “On Thursday night, he said that even if tensions ease, any new government will soon be” roughly awakened. “For Khan’s victorious opponents, he added,” the honeymoon will not last long. “

Since taking office, the 69-year-old Khan has begun to distance himself from the United States and seek closer relations with China, which has become for Pakistan. a major investor and ally. He also pushed back officials in Washington, welcoming the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan last year and saying he would never allow his country to become a “slave” to foreign powers.

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The charismatic politician came to power in 2018 after promising to eradicate corruption, bring justice to the poor and build Pakistan into a proud independent country. But he stumbled as a leader and lost public support as consumer prices soared. He broke with political allies, encouraged opposition parties and began to lose the support of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment, which supported his candidacy.

Ten days ago, Khan’s anti-American rhetoric took a new turn. Addressing a crowd of supporters, he pulled a paper from his pocket and said it was evidence of a “foreign conspiracy” to overthrow his government. Shortly afterwards, he blamed the United States, claiming that a U.S. diplomat had threatened his government at a meeting with Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington in early March.

Khan never released the document, and State Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier this week that “the allegations are not true.” He and that US policy was to “support the peaceful upholding of constitutional democratic principles” in Pakistan and other countries. “We do not support one party over another.”

Pakistan’s National Security Committee said it had considered the document, described as a telegram sent by the ambassador about the meeting. He then issued a statement saying that the US official had used “undiplomatic language” at the meeting and that it was “unacceptable interference” in Pakistan’s internal affairs. Shortly afterwards, Pakistan’s foreign ministry summoned a U.S. embassy staffer and filed a complaint, a U.S. official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he had no right to speak to the press.

But Pakistan’s military leaders distanced themselves from the controversy, and on Sunday, when Khan agreed to cancel the parliamentary vote due to an alleged US-backed conspiracy, the chief military spokesman was quick to make a statement saying the agency “has nothing to do”. events of the day. Meanwhile, last week the commander-in-chief of the army, General Kamar Javed Bajwa, delivered a speech in which he said that Pakistan and the United States maintain “excellent relations.”

One irony of the Supreme Court ruling is that he officially reinstates Khan as prime minister and restores full-fledged parliamentary work, finding that both branches of government were illegally closed on trumped-up grounds and must continue to function, so the vote “ distrust ”may happen as planned.

Hussein Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to Washington and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, said late Thursday that a decisive legal rejection of Khan’s actions paved the way for a more responsible government to gain power as well as improve relations with the United States.

“Khan’s inflammatory rhetoric has burned the prospects for cooperation,” Hakani said, pointing to his support for the Taliban and his categorical refusal to allow US bases in the country. Even if bilateral ties “do not go back to an era when they were close allies,” he said, “a more serious government can at least participate and cooperate in areas of mutual interest.”

Shake Hussein and John Hudson of Washington contributed to this report.

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