Opposition lawmakers vow to approach Supreme Court against ‘unconstitutional’ steps
President Arif Alvi on Sunday dissolved the National Assembly under Article 58 of the Constitution after Prime Minister Imran Khan advised him to call for early elections.
“The President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi, has approved the advice of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to dissolve the National Assembly under Article 58(1) read with Article 48(1) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” read a statement issued by the President’s Secretariat.
Article 58 says the “president shall dissolve the National Assembly if so advised by the prime minister; and the National Assembly shall, unless sooner dissolved, stand dissolved at the expiration of 48 hours after the prime minister has so advised.” Meanwhile, Article 48 states: “In the exercise of his functions, the President shall act [on and] in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet [or the Prime Minister].”
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a brief address to the nation, had earlier announced that he had advised the president to “dissolve assemblies.” Legal experts have questioned his ability to undertake this step, as it came within minutes of National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri dismissing the opposition’s no-confidence motion against Khan after declaring it in violation of Article 5 of the Constitution, which says loyalty to the state is the basic duty of every citizen.
The opposition has vowed to appeal the Supreme Court of Pakistan to intervene and declare the deputy speaker’s steps as unconstitutional. They have cited Article 58 of the Constitution, which states that a prime minister cannot advise the dissolution of the assemblies if a “notice of a resolution for a vote of no-confidence has been given in the National Assembly but has not been voted upon.”
The government, meanwhile, has maintained—without any evidence—that the no-trust motion against the premier was a “foreign funded conspiracy.” It has cited a diplomatic cable authored by Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. on the basis of his discussions with a foreign official, claiming Washington had warned of consequences for Pakistan if Khan remained in power.
The opposition, as well as senior legal experts, have hinted that they would seek treason proceedings against Khan and the deputy speaker, stressing that their actions have violated the Constitution.
In a posting on Twitter, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain announced that following the president’s decision, the federal cabinet had been dissolved but Khan would continue to remain in office under Article 224 of the Constitution. The maximum time Khan can continue in office without forming an interim government to undertake elections is 30 days.
In a separate posting on Twitter, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib said new elections would be held in 90 days.