Pakistan PM Imran Khan to address nation after court blow
Ex-cricketer will ‘fight to the last ball’ after being found to have acted unconstitutionally in no-confidence vote crisis
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the nation on Friday after its top court ruled that he acted unconstitutionally in blocking an attempt to oust him.
The Supreme Court ruled that parliament be reconvened by Saturday and for the no-confidence motion to go ahead as planned.
Mr Khan had tried to suspend the vote by dissolving parliament. His political allies broke away from his coalition, raising expectations that he would lose the vote.
The prime minister said he had called a Cabinet meeting on Friday and would speak to the public later in the day.
He signalled his defiance with a cricketing term: “My message to our nation is I have always and will continue to fight for Pakistan till the last ball.”
The court ruling is the latest twist in a crisis that threatens political and economic stability in the nuclear-armed country of 220 million people, with the rupee currency hitting all-time lows on Thursday and foreign-exchange reserves tumbling.
The Dawn newspaper welcomed the Supreme Court ruling, saying the court had reasserted itself as the custodian of the constitution.READ MOREPakistan opposition accuses Imran Khan of staging ‘coup’ in appeal to Supreme Court
“It is hoped that the verdict, delivered just as matters seemed to be hurtling towards chaos, will be able to pull the country back from the precipice,” the English-language newspaper said.
Political chaos would worry the powerful military, which has stepped in to remove civilian governments and rule on three occasions, citing the need to end political uncertainty.
Mr Khan, who opposed the US-led intervention in Afghanistan and has developed relations with Russia since he became prime minister in 2018, accused the US of supporting a plot to oust him.
Washington dismissed the accusation.
After the Supreme Court ruling, angry supporters of the prime minister chanted anti-American slogans on the streets, while opposition supporters celebrated near by.
Police in riot gear kept the two sides apart.
Should Mr Khan lose the no-confidence vote, the opposition could nominate its prime minister to govern until August 2023, by when a new election is due.
Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, said after the court ruling that the opposition had nominated him to take over if Mr Khan is removed.
The opposition has said it wants early elections but only after delivering Mr Khan a political defeat and passing legislation it says is required to ensure the next polls are free and fair.
Pakistan’s election commission said on Thursday the earliest an election could be held was October.