2022 Pakistani constitutional crisis

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A political and constitutional crisis emerged in Pakistan when, on 3 April 2022, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri dismissed a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan during a session in which it was expected to be taken up for a vote, alleging that a foreign country's involvement in the regime change was contradictory to Article 5 of the Constitution of Pakistan.[1] Moments later, Khan stated in a televised address that he had advised President Arif Alvi to dissolve the National Assembly. Alvi complied with Khan's advice under Article 58 of the constitution. This resulted in the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) taking a suo moto notice of the ongoing situation, creating a constitutional crisis, as effectively, Imran Khan led a constitutional coup.[2][3][4][5] Four days later, the SCP ruled that the dismissal of the no-confidence motion, the prorogation of the National Assembly, the advice from Imran Khan to President Arif Alvi to dissolve the National Assembly and the subsequent dissolution of the National Assembly were unconstitutional, and overturned these actions in a 5-0 vote. The Supreme Court further held that the National Assembly had not been prorogued and had to be reconvened by the speaker immediately and no later than 10:30 a.m. on 9 April 2022.[6][7]

On 9 April, the National Assembly was reconvened, however the motion was not immediately put to a vote. Later, the speaker and the deputy speaker both resigned shortly before midnight.

Shortly after midnight on 10 April, the National Assembly voted and passed the no-confidence motion with 174 votes, a majority, removing Khan from office,[8] and making him the first prime minister in Pakistan to be removed from office through a no-confidence motion.[9]

Background[edit]

On 3 April 2022, as the National Assembly session began, law minister Fawad Chaudhry took the floor stating that loyalty to the state was the basic duty of every citizen under Article 5(1). He reiterated earlier claims by Khan that a foreign conspiracy was hatched to oust the government.[citation needed] Chaudhry then called on the deputy speaker to decide the constitutionality of the no-trust move. Therefore, Suri termed that the motion violated Article 5 of the Constitution of Pakistan due to foreign powers involvement in support of the motion.[10] Soon after this, Khan, in an address to the nation, announced that he had advised president Arif Alvi to dissolve the assemblies following the dismissal of the no-confidence motion against him. Hence, on the same day, the president dissolved the National Assembly on the prime minister's advice under Article 58 of the constitution.[11]

The move to dissolve the assembly was controversial because of Article 58's explicit statement that the prime minister "against whom a notice of a resolution for a vote of no-confidence has been given in the National Assembly but has not been voted upon" does not have the earlier mentioned power to advise the president to dismiss the assembly.[12] Later in the day, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial took suo moto notice of the ongoing situation in the country. A three-member bench of the Supreme Court comprising CJP Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar heard the case and said the court would review the deputy speaker's actions.[13] The same day, Joint Opposition held a parallel session in the National Assembly after the house was adjourned and passed the no-confidence vote against Khan, declaring it successful with 197 votes.[14]

On 4 April the Cabinet Secretariat issued a notification stating that Khan had "ceased to hold the office of the prime minister of Pakistan with immediate effect". However a contradicting notification issued by President Office the same day stated that Khan would continue to dispose of his duties as Prime Minister till the appointment of a caretaker premier.[15]

Alleged foreign interference[edit]

Khan had on multiple occasions alleged that a foreign conspiracy was trying to topple his government.[16][17] In an address to the nation, he accused the United States of conspiring against his government, although he refused to provide evidence.[16] On 30 March 2022, the Islamabad High Court ruled that publishing the contents of what Khan described as a threatening letter sent by the United States would violate his oath of office and the Official Secrets Act, 1923.[18]

Supreme Court timeline[edit]

On 3 April 2022, the Pakistani Supreme Court took suo-moto cognizance of the National Assembly's proceedings.[19][20] Notices were ordered to be issued to the Attorney General, the Pakistan Bar Council and the Supreme Court Bar Association, by a three-member bench of the court. A larger five-judge bench of the court was formed on 4 April 2022 to hear the case along with petitions filed by Pakistan Peoples Party, the Supreme Court Bar Association, Pakistan Muslim League (N), the Sindh High Court Bar Association and the Sindh Bar Council. The cases were heard daily from 3 April to 7 April.[21]

On 5 April, the court adjourned the matter.[22]

On 6 April, the Supreme Court adjourned again the matter while seeking the minutes of the NSC meeting where the "foreign conspiracy to overthrow the Khan Government" was discussed.[23]

On 7 April, a five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Bandial and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail[24] ruled that the attempt to dissolve the National Assembly was unconstitutional in a 5-0 vote.[7] The ruling also allowed for a future no-confidence vote to be held on 9 April.[7][6]

On 9 April, despite the ruling from the highest court, the no-confidence motion was not laid in the national assembly until late night after the resignation of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.[25] The motion was voted upon and passed by the National Assembly shortly after midnight on 10 April 2022.[9][26]

Aftermath[edit]

On 9 April, the National Assembly was reconvened, however the motion was not immediately put to a vote amid filibustering by members of the treasury benches and the session was adjourned thrice.[27] The same day, Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan resigned. The Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly also resigned shortly before midnight leading to former Speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq stepping in as Chairman.

Shortly after midnight on 10 April, the National Assembly successfully passed a no confidence motion, which resulted in Khan ceasing to hold the office of prime minister of Pakistan and making him the first prime minister in Pakistan to be removed from office by a vote of no confidence.[8][9][28]

On April 11, the National Assembly elected the leader of the opposition, Shehbaz Sharif, to succeed Khan as the new prime minister, with 174 votes polled in favour of his succession. The PTI boycotted the vote.[29]

Reactions[edit]

Pakistan[edit]

  • On 4 April, as the week began, the Pakistan Stock Exchange fell more than 1,200 points and the benchmark KSE 100 index ended the week with a loss of 708 points or 1.56% to close at 44,445 level.[30]
  • Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa indirectly refuted Imran Khan's allegation of United States' conspiracy.[31][32]
  • In an address to the nation on the night of 8 April, Khan said he accepted the court's decision even as he criticised it for not investigating allegations of foreign interference. He, however, vowed to "continue to fight until the last ball", and called for protests on 10 April 2022.[33]

International[edit]

  •  India's Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said that it is an internal matter for Pakistan, but India continues to monitor the developments there.[34][35]
  •  Russia slammed the United States for alleged interference in Pakistan's affairs for its "own selfish purposes".[36]
  •  United States denied seeking any regime change in Pakistan. It said that it supports Pakistan's constitutional process, and is closely following developments in Pakistan.[37][38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Khan, Dawn com | Sanaullah (2022-04-03). "President Alvi dissolves National Assembly on PM Imran's advice". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  3. ^ "Key Pakistan leaders behind opposition bid to remove PM Khan". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2022-04-06.
  4. ^ "'Constitutional Coup' Threatened in Pakistan". Human Rights Watch. 2022-04-05. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
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  6. ^ a b Bhatti, Haseeb (April 7, 2022). "Supreme Court restores National Assembly, orders no-confidence vote to be held on Saturday". Dawn.
  7. ^ a b c "Pakistan court rules blocking vote to oust Khan unconstitutional". www.aljzeera.com. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
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  13. ^ "CJP takes suo motu notice of situation in country after dissolution of NA". Dawn. 3 April 2022.
  14. ^ Wasim, Amir (4 April 2022). "Opposition approves no-trust in 'own' session". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  15. ^ "Imran to continue as prime minister till appointment of caretaker premier". DAWN.COM. 4 April 2022. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  16. ^ a b "Imran Khan claims US diplomat involved in 'conspiracy' against his govt". Hindustan Times. 2022-04-04. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  17. ^ Dawn.com (2022-03-27). "PM Imran says 'foreign-funded conspiracy' out to topple his govt, claims to have evidence in writing". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
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  25. ^ Chaudhry, Fahad (2022-04-09). "No-confidence vote: Speaker adjourns session yet again as opposition clamours for voting to begin". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2022-04-09.
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  27. ^ "Pakistan on brink of crisis as Imran Khan blocks no-confidence vote". the Guardian. 2022-04-09. Retrieved 2022-04-09.
  28. ^ "PM Imran Khan loses no-trust vote, ousted from power in Pakistan". Hindustan Times. 2022-04-10. Retrieved 2022-04-09.
  29. ^ "Pakistan assembly elects Shehbaz Sharif as new prime minister". the Guardian. 2022-04-11. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  30. ^ "KSE ends eventful week in loss". The Express Tribune. 10 April 2022.
  31. ^ "Pakistan army chief says has 'excellent' relations with US, best equipment is from Americans". Arab News PK. 2022-04-04. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  32. ^ "Threat letter from US, says Pak PM Imran Khan says in slip of tongue". Business Standard India. Press Trust of India. 2022-03-31. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  33. ^ "I accept Supreme Court's decision, says PM Imran in address to nation". 8 April 2022.
  34. ^ "India doesn't comment on a country's internal matters, says Arindam Bagchi on political developments in Pakistan". Firstpost. 2022-04-07. Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  35. ^ Ministry of External Affairs (India), Government of India, Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (April 07, 2022), retrieved 2022-04-07
  36. ^ "Russia slams US attempt at'interference' in Pakistan affairs". www.thenews.com.pk.
  37. ^ Rajghatta, Chidanand. "US denies seeking regime change in Pakistan, says it supports constitutional process". Khaleej Times. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  38. ^ "US State Department again rejects PM's allegations, says respect Pakistan's constitutional process". 24 News HD. 2022-04-01. Retrieved 2022-04-05.