Political Tussle Triggers Constitutional Crisis In Pakistan

The Story
A vote of “no confidence” against Prime Minister Imran Khan was blocked by the parliament’s speaker Asad Qaiser last week. That, and the subsequent dissolution of the National Assembly, has triggered a constitutional crisis.

Explaining the reason for blocking the “no confidence” vote, Qaiser said the motion violated Article 5 of the Constitution, which calls for loyalty to the state and constitution. Obviously not agreeing to the speaker’s interpretation of the said Article 5, the opposition plans to appeal against the moves at the Supreme Court.

What’s the opposition saying?
Needing 172 votes to unseat Khan and his Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf-(PTI)-led government, the opposition claims to have the support of 195 members of parliament. President Arif Alvi dissolved the parliament on Sunday, on the advice of Khan who also called for snap elections. The Supreme Court will hear the opposition’s appeal of the moves today.

What led to the vote of no confidence?
The main opposition parties, the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PMLN) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), are leading the push against Khan, supposedly because of his poor performance. In its response to this, the government dismissed the opposition’s claim, as Khan says moves to unseat him are a conspiracy between the opposition and foreign powers.

The speaker’s rulings are granted immunity from judicial scrutiny, but where an issue is beyond the jurisdiction of the speaker, the courts can intervene. Legal experts have criticized the speaker’s interpretation of the Article 5, and said the Supreme Court will decide whether or not the speaker’s action was within his jurisdiction, which would then determine the validity of the subsequent dissolution of parliament.

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