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Vote on the motion of no confidence against Imran Khan underway in the National Assembly

Meanwhile, the High Court in Islamabad is set to hear a plea to stop Imran Khan from replacing General Qamar Bajwa as army chief, fearing martial law could be imposed.

Archive image of Imran Khan. PA

Voting on a no-confidence motion against Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan began Sunday in the National Assembly minutes after midnight.

Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri resigned minutes before the session resumed, saying they did not want to be part of a “foreign plot” to overthrow the government.

The current session is chaired by Ayaz Sadiq, Geo News reported.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Chief Justice Umra Ata Bandial ordered the opening of the Supreme Court after the Speaker of the National Assembly refused to allow the vote on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, FYR News reported.

The Supreme Court said it would take legal action if the vote did not take place.

It came after opposition leaders urged the SC to intervene as the session of Pakistan’s National Assembly was adjourned for the fourth time today after President Asad Qaiser refused to vote on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, local media reported.

According to Geo NewsQaiser said he had a 30-year relationship with Imran Khan and could not end it, even if it meant facing contempt of court.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly rejecting a no-confidence motion against Khan on April 3. He also ordered a vote of no confidence against the prime minister on April 9. Failure to do so will amount to “contempt of court”.

‘Violation of SC order’, says opposition

The opposition, which is growing frustrated with the delays, has accused the president of colluding with Khan to delay the no-confidence motion.

PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Khan’s decision to convene his cabinet shows there is “clearly no intention to vote” on the confidence motion today.

PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif had urged the Supreme Court to take cognizance suo moto of the “brazen violation of the court order” by Khan and the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly.

Meanwhile, Khan summoned his cabinet to his residence after his government filed a petition for review challenging the Supreme Court’s verdict which ordered today’s vote of no confidence.

Plea filed to ban Imran Khan from dismissing army chief

According to FYR Newsthe High Court in Islamabad has also opened and is about to accept a petition to stop Khan from replacing army chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa, Dawn reported.

The petition seeks to ban Khan from using his “arbitrary powers”. However, earlier Khan said he was not looking to remove Bajwa, FYR News reported.

What has happened so far

The Assembly convened on April 9 to vote on the no-confidence motion against Khan, as directed by the Supreme Court. The Prime Minister has not yet attended the meeting.

A joint opposition that spans the political spectrum from left to radically religious has said it has the 172 votes needed in Pakistan’s 342-seat parliament to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan.

However, voting continued to be delayed due to namaaz and iftar.

“Foreign Threat Letter”

Earlier in the day during the Assembly session, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had called his Pakistani counterpart and advised him not to travel to Russia.

“Where in the world does a sovereign state receive directives from other countries, and what independent country accepts such directives?” Geo News quoted him as saying.

Earlier, Imran Khan said he had received a “threatening letter” which proved the involvement of a foreign hand behind the decision to oust him from power.

Khan visited Moscow on February 23 just hours before Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine.

Vote of no confidence against Khan on April 3

On April 3, the Common Opposition tabled a no-confidence motion against Imran Khan in the 342-member National Assembly, claiming his government was responsible for the “current economic crisis in the country”. Several lawmakers from the ruling PTI switched sides ahead of voting day, leaving Khan with little support to survive the motion.

However, on D-Day, Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri rejected the motion against Khan who came to power in 2018.

The opposition leaders then moved the Supreme Court which then ruled in their favour.

A bench of five judges voted unanimously on Thursday against President Arif Alvi’s dissolution of the National Assembly at the behest of Khan who called for early polls.

He noted that by asking the President to do so, Prime Minister Imran Khan violated Article 58 of the Constitution.

Under Article 58, the National Assembly cannot be dissolved in the event of a vote of no confidence in the government, NDTV reported.

Politics in Pakistan is heavily dominated by the military and has remained mostly unstable. No Pakistani prime minister has been able to complete a full five-year term.

With contributions from agencies

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