Opponents of Prime Minister Khan had the votes needed to remove him from Parliament after defecting members of his party and a key coalition partner.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s move to dissolve Parliament was illegal and ordered the house to be returned.
Thursday’s decision came after four days of hearings before the Supreme Court. Khan will now face a vote of no confidence from lawmakers he has tried to avoid. The council is likely to meet for a vote on Saturday.
A major political crisis erupted when Khan and his allies thwarted the proposal of opposition MPs who seemed certain to expel him.
The court ruled that this step “declared it unconstitutional and had no legal effect and was rescinded.”
Khan dissolved parliament on Sunday and paved the way for early elections after accusing the opposition of being part of a “foreign plot” to remove him from power.
His opponents secured the 172 votes needed to oust him in the 342-seat House of Representatives after several members of his party and a key coalition partner defected. But the deputy speaker of parliament, a member of Khan’s party, rejected the motion of no-confidence.
The opposition claimed that Khan violated the constitution and referred her case to the country’s highest court.
victory for the homeland
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Omar Atta Bandial read out the decision and said that the steps taken to form a caretaker government before the elections are unconstitutional.
“It is hereby declared that all measures initiated … for the purposes of holding a general election to elect a new Council – including but not limited to the appointment of an interim Prime Minister and Cabinet – have no legal effect and are hereby rescinded,” the court said in the decision.
Opposition leaders walked out of the court, waving victory signs, as supporters cheered loudly.
“I congratulate the whole nation,” said Maulana Fazlur Rahman, leader of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the opposition coalition. “This is a victory for the constitution and the whole nation.”
Pakistan Muslim League President Nawaz Nawaz Sharif told reporters that this is a historic day for the country.
“The Supreme Court passed a ruling that secured not only the constitution but Pakistan,” Sharif said.
We are very confident
Opposition lawyer Haider Zaman Qureshi expected that the government would be changed soon.
“when [no-confidence] Qureshi told Al Jazeera that the movement is moving forward… We are very confident that we have the numbers and we will succeed.
“We will have a coalition government of opposition forces and we will build bridges, and we will get Pakistan out of this economic collapse that this outgoing government has brought us.”
Earlier on Thursday, the fourth day of hearings, Khan’s lawyers defended the controversial move, saying the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to interfere in parliamentary affairs.
Khan said the opposition had gone too far in collusion with the United States for “regime change”. He said Washington wants him to go because of what he describes as his independent foreign policy, which often favors China and Russia.
The US State Department denied any involvement in Pakistan’s domestic politics.
The standoff threw the country of 220 million people into an all-out constitutional crisis, and sent its currency to an all-time low against the dollar on Thursday.
“as [the] “The dollar continues to rise, the massive economic collapse is staring the country in the face,” Sharif, who is among the candidates to replace Khan as prime minister, said in a tweet on Twitter.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court or its powerful army constantly intervenes whenever unrest engulfs a democratically elected government in the South Asian country. The military seized power and ruled Pakistan for more than half of the 75 years of Pakistan’s history.
s. Zaman contributed to this report from Islamabad