Rajat Sharma

Pak Supreme Court’s verdict: Imran’s “last ball”

akb fullIn a big jolt to Prime Minister Imran Khan, a five-judge bench of Pakistan Supreme Court on Thursday night set aside the Deputy Speaker’s ruling as unconstitutional, restored the dissolved National Assembly and directed Speaker Asad Qaiser to summon the assembly session and get the voting on no-confidence motion done, not later than 10.30 am(Pakistan Time) on Saturday.

The apex court said the session shall not be prorogued without the conclusion of the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan. It also said the government “cannot interfere in the participation of any member of National Assembly in the assembly session.”

While the main opposition parties rejoiced over the SC verdict, Imran Khan said, he would “continue to fight for Pakistan till the last ball”. In its unanimous 5-0 verdict, the Supreme Court in its brief order said, “all actions, acts or proceedings initiated, done or taken, by reason of, or to give effect to the President’s order, are of no legal effect, and are hereby quashed”.

The apex court said, the deputy speaker’s ruling was “contrary to the Constitution and the law and of no legal effect, and the same are hereby set aside.” The apex court said President Arif Alvi’s proclamation dissolving the National Assembly was also “contrary to the Constitution and the law and of no legal effect….It is further declared that the (National) Assembly was in existence at all times, and continues to remain to be so”. The Supreme Court ordered that the Prime Minister and all federal ministers, ministers of state, advisers, and other functionaries of the government be restored to their respective offices as on April 3, 2022.”

Leader of the opposition Shehbaz Sharif welcomed the apex court order and said, it has “definitely fulfilled the expectations of the people”. Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto described it as “a victory for democracy and Constitution”. From London, former PM Nawaz Sharif, who is in self-exile, said, congratulated the people of Pakistan for “getting rid of such a person who ruined the country. He made common people starve. Dollar has reached 200 rupees today and people are frustration with inflation in the country.”

There is not an iota of doubt that the combined opposition has scored a victory over Imran Khan in the Supreme Court. It is up to Imran Khan to decide whether to face the no-confidence motion or resign. All the five judges of Supreme Court were of the view that that the country needed a strong and stable government as the economy was in doldrums and people were suffering because of inflation.

The judges were of the view that elections should take place, but it was up to the National Assembly to decide when to go in for elections, and for the Election Commission to decide about the dates. The secretary of Pakistan Election Commission was summoned to the apex court. The Election Commission has said that elections cannot be held before October because delimitation of constituencies required to be done.

Imran Khan knew that his game was up, as his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf(PTI) had lost majority inside the National Assembly. His allies broke away and 22 of his MPs also defected to the opposition camp. He knew, both the parliament and the army were against him, and the people of Pakistan were unhappy with him because of his government’s failure in curbing inflation.

Imran Khan had his last hope pinned on the Supreme Court, from where he expected some sort of relief, but the apex court completely upset his cart by quashing all steps taken by the deputy speaker and the President that had led to the dissolution of the National Assembly.

In plain words, the Supreme Court agreed with the opposition’s charges that Imran Khan has made a mockery of the Constitution by throwing all precedents and rules to the winds. In other winds, the Supreme Court exposed the treachery committed by Imran Khan and his advisers.

Imran Khan tried to gain sympathy from the common voters by naming America as the devil which, he said, was “conspiring with the opposition” to topple his government. He described the opposition leaders as Mir Jafar, the army commander who in the 18th century had commited treachery against Nawab Sirajuddaulah of Bengal and opened the path for British occupation of India.

Imran Khan knew that he had lost majority in parliament, and yet he tried to intimidate his party MNAs who had crossed over to the opposition camp. He also discredited his allies who left the alliance when the no-trust motion came up. Imran then called a public meeting, where he took out a paper from his coat pocket, brandished it before the people and alleged that there was “a foreign hand behind the conspiracy” to topple his government. He then went on national television to blame the US for trying to dislodge his government. In his nationwide televised address, he described the top three opposition leaders as “stooges” of the US.

When Imran Khan found that his opinion had no takers, he tried to bring in the army to play a mediatory role between him and the opposition. He agreed to resign, but on condition that the opposition should first withdraw its no-trust motion and agree to fresh elections.

When the opposition rejected his offer and dared him to come before parliament to face the no-trust vote, Imran Khan conspired with the Speaker and Deputy Speaker and got the no-trust motion notice rejected. He got the President to dissolve the National Assembly and order fresh elections. Imran Khan considered this as his “masterstroke”. He felt that he would now go on the offensive, and project himself before the people as a hero or martyr, and name America as the main conspirator which toppled his government. But on Thursday night, the Supreme Court nipped his plans in the bud.

Imran Khan, under orders from Supreme Court, will now have to face no-confidence vote in Parliament, and if he loses, which appears to be a certainty, he will have to resign, and the House will elect a leader who will become the new Prime Minister. The combined opposition has already agreed to field Shehbaz Sharif as its candidate for prime minister post. It will then be up to the Election Commission to fix dates for fresh parliamentary elections.

Imran Khan is still claiming that he will play “till the last ball”. It could be an honourable exit for him if he agrees to the Supreme Court verdict as “the last ball”.

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