pakistans top court rules against imran khan bringing his ouster closer - Pakistan’s top court rules against Imran Khan, bringing his ouster closer

ISLAMABAD (AFP, REUTERS) – Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday (April 7) ordered the restoration of the dissolved Lower House of Parliament, setting aside a move by the deputy speaker to dismiss a no-trust resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

All five judges unanimously voted against the deputy speaker’s ruling and the apex court ordered the assembly to reconvene on Saturday.

Former cricket star Khan lost his parliamentary majority last week and was on the verge of being forced from office by a no-confidence vote tabled by the opposition on Sunday.

But the deputy speaker of Parliament, a member of Mr Khan’s party, threw out the motion, ruling it was part of a foreign conspiracy and unconstitutional.

That move allowed Mr Khan to get the presidency – a largely ceremonial role taken by a loyalist – to dissolve Parliament and order an election, which must be held within 90 days.

The stand-off threw the nuclear-armed country of 220 million people, ruled by the military for extended periods since independence in 1947, into a full-blown constitutional crisis, and sent its currency to all-time lows against the dollar on Thursday.

Hours before the court’s decision, Pakistan’s election commission said it cannot hold snap polls within 90 days, as requested by the president, and the earliest it could do so was October.

The president had asked the election commission to propose a date within the next 90 days to hold snap polls after Mr Khan dissolved the Lower House of Parliament on Sunday.

“The Election Commission though fully committed to hold elections would however require at least four additional months,” the commission’s statement said, citing the need to update constituency boundaries and other issues.

On the move to oust Mr Khan, his supporters have argued that the opposition bid to oust him with foreign support was unconstitutional. Opposition leaders have rejected that.

Pakistan has been wracked by political crisis for much of its 75-year existence, and no prime minister has ever seen out a full term.

There had been high hopes for Mr Khan when he was elected in 2018 on a promise of sweeping away decades of entrenched corruption and cronyism, but he has struggled to maintain support with soaring inflation, a feeble rupee and crippling debt.