A five-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan is hearing multiple petitions challenging Khan’s dissolution of the National Assembly.
Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan’s Supreme Court has again delayed its decision on the legality of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to dissolve parliament and call new elections.
A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday continued to hear multiple petitions challenging Khan’s dissolution of parliament, which came after the deputy speaker of parliament rejected a no-confidence vote against Khan that he seemed destined to lose.
The court hinted that it could rule on the dissolution on Thursday.
No prime minister has ever served a full term in Pakistan’s 75-year history, which has been marred by frequent coups by the country’s powerful military, and Khan’s fate now hangs in the balance amid a political and constitutional crisis that has taken over the South Asian nation of 220 million people.
Khan has alleged that foreign powers are behind a plot to overthrow him.
“Khan has no evidence to prove his accusations,” Marriyum Aurangzeb, a spokesman for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), told reporters outside the Supreme Court.
Aurangzeb accused Khan of misleading the nation about an international conspiracy to overthrow his government, expressing hope that the Supreme Court’s ruling would overturn the dissolution and ensure that no one “dare to abrogate the constitution in the future.”
Former planning minister and PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal also said his party hoped the court ruling would safeguard the supremacy of Pakistan’s constitution.
Accusing the United States of being behind efforts to overthrow his governmentKhan had called on opposition leaders to agree to new elections rather than “be part of a conspiracy for regime change.”
Supreme Court justices have questioned the validity of the conspiracy claims and whether they were “based on allegations and not facts”.
“Where are the minutes of NSC [National Security Council] meeting?” Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked lawyer Babar Awan, who represented Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in court.
Awan said that Pakistan sent a protest letter to the country that had threatened regime change and that the only solution to the current crisis was to hold new elections.
Pakistan’s security services, according to the Reuters news agency, have found no credible evidence of a foreign conspiracy against the embattled prime minister.
Khan came to power in 2018 in elections tainted by accusations of vote-rigging and supported by Pakistan’s powerful military. But differences over the government and Khan’s handling of foreign policy have created divisions and severed his relations with military chiefs.
Opposition leaders have also demanded that military leaders step in and tell the truth about a US diplomatic cable, which Khan’s ruling PTI government said called for regime change.
The pressure on Khan is intensifying.
Aamir Liaquat Hussain, Khan’s former PTI MP and well-known TV presenter, tweeted Tuesday night that Khan was lying about the cable being evidence of a foreign conspiracy against his government.
Representing Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi at the Supreme Court, lawyer Ali Zafar raised objections on Wednesday over the court’s jurisdiction to take up the opposition’s case against the dissolution.
Zafar said that the Supreme Court’s consideration of a National Assembly issue was an interference in parliamentary business and that any ruling would overreach the court’s jurisdiction.
A group of more than 100 academics, civil society representatives and ordinary citizens wrote an open letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan expressing “serious concerns about the prevailing political and constitutional crisis”.
The letter said that the “honor and welfare of our future generations” is safeguarded by adherence to the constitution.
“Today, we pin all our hopes on your honor to uphold the constitution and stand with the people of Pakistan in their time of need,” the statement said.