On Sunday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan baffled his political rivals and called for snap elections, crushing the no-trust motion against his government in the National Assembly. National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri dismissed the motion and said that it was against the Constitution and rules of Pakistan.
According to reports, the Supreme Court of Pakistan, soon after the event, took suo motu notice of the issue and decided to constitute a larger bench. The opposition, which also filed an appeal in court claiming that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had acted unconstitutionally, sat on the floor of the parliament in protest.
Calling for fresh elections, Khan said, “The people should decide what they want, not foreigners. Buying people’s support with money has resulted in this (situation). Put that money into something better, for orphanages etc. I implore the nation to prepare for elections. You will decide the future of this nation, not foreigners or corrupt people.”
He advised President Arif-ur-Rehman Alvi to dissolve the parliament, resulting in further political instability in the nuclear-armed country of 220 million inhabitants. “I have advised the President to dissolve the Assemblies. This (is) a democratic society. Let us democrats go to the people. Let the elections be held, (and) let the people decide who they want. A conspiracy from outside, and these corrupt people should not be allowed to determine this country’s destiny by buying off people with bags of money,” he added.
Opposition lawmakers started protesting after the Deputy Speaker Suri called off the no-trust motion despite their confidence that it would succeed. In the 342-member National Assembly, the Opposition parties required 172 votes to pass the motion. According to them, they had the support of 177 members.
In an earlier interview, the cricketer-turned-politician had hinted that there was still a chance that he would retain his position. “I have a plan for tomorrow (Sunday), you should not be worried about it. I will show them and will defeat them in the assembly,” Imran Khan had said. Aside from refusing to resign, he also promised to “play to the last ball” and “look the traitors in the eye at the assembly”.
Nevertheless, he missed the assembly session on Sunday morning as his supporters flocked to the streets in support of his demand for a non-violent demonstration against a “conspiracy” planned outside Pakistan to depose him. In the days leading up to the no-trust vote, Khan had alleged a foreign conspiracy to topple his government. “The United States”, Imran Khan said in a slip of the tongue. He then stated that “a foreign country” had sent a “threatening memo”, which was against the Pakistani nation. The US has rejected all insinuations.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s advice to President Alvi to dissolve the National Assembly was a violation of the Constitution. He called on all institutions to protect, defend, and uphold the Constitution of Pakistan.
“Government has violated the Constitution by not allowing voting on the no-confidence motion … United Opposition is not leaving Parliament. Our lawyers are on their way to (the) Supreme Court,” he said.
No prime minister in Pakistan has ever served a full term.