The Pakistan prime minister’s fate hangs in balance, as the Supreme Court steps in after the dismissal of the no-trust motion. We look at the making of this political crisis
Pakitan prime minister Imran Khan won himself a reprieve as he managed to block the no-confidence vote against him in parliament and called for an early election. As the country plunged into a constitutional crisis, the Pakistan Supreme Court will take up the legality of the situation.
As we await the ruling which is likely to decide Khan’s fate, we take a look at the major developments that led to the ongoing political crisis.
18 August 2018: More than two decades after his foray into politics, former cricketer Imran Khan was sworn in as the new prime minister of Pakistan. He became the 22nd premier of the country. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the biggest parliamentary party in the July polls, securing 116 seats in the 342-member assembly and Khan became PM wilt the help of smaller allies — Pakistan Muslim League (Q), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (seven members), Balochistan Awami Party, Balochistan National Party (Mengal), Grand Democratic Alliance, Awami Muslim League, and Jamhoori Watan Party.
Khan’s win marked the end of decades of rotating leadership between the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) PML-N and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), punctuated by periods of military rule.
3 March 2021: Opposition leader and former premier Yusuf Raza Gilani defeated Pakistan’s finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in elections for the Senate, the upper house of Parliament. This came as a major setback for Khan who had personally campaigned for his Cabinet colleague.
The ruling PTI had claimed that it enjoyed a majority of 182 members while 172 votes were needed to elect the senator. “Yusuf Raza Gilani got 169 votes while Shaikh got 164 votes. Seven votes were rejected. Total number of polled votes was 340,” the Election Commission of Pakistan had announced.
6 March 2021: Imran Khan won the trust vote in National Assembly following the defeat of his finance minister, ending the political uncertainty in the country. He secured 178 votes in the 342-member lower house of Parliament.
The floor test took place without the Opposition as the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of 11 parties, boycotted the vote. This made it easier for Khan to secure the required numbers.
The Pakistan PM had sought a vote of confidence in a bid to restore the legitimacy of his government after the Opposition mounted pressure on him to resign.
8 March 2022: Pakistan’s Leader of the Opposition and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif tabled a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly against Khan, accusing his government of being unable to handle the economic crisis in the country.
Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri asked the members of the Parliament, who are in favour of the motion, to stand up so that their numbers could be counted.
Sharif first moved a resolution to allow tabling of the no-confidence motion, which was approved by 161 yes votes.
19 March 2022: Khan issued show-cause notices to dissent PTI lawmakers for alleged defection and sought an explanation from them by 26 March, asking why they may not be declared defectors and disqualified as a member of the NA.
Nearly two dozen dissident lawmakers of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party recently came out in the open ahead of voting on a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Khan, with the government accusing opposition parties of horse-trading.
20 March 2022: Speaker Speaker Asad Qaiser summoned a National Assembly session on 25 March to take up the no-trust motion against Khan.
“Pakistan’s National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has summoned a session of the Lower House at the Parliament House in Islamabad on Friday at 11 a.m,” Radio Pakistan had reported.
23 March 2022: Khan said he would not resign even as three allies indicated that they would vote against his government.
“I will not resign under any circumstances. I will play till the last ball… and I will surprise them [the Opposition] a day before as they are still under pressure,» Khan had said, without revealing further details.
He told the media that the Opposition had laid all of their cards, but the no-confidence motion against him would not be successful. «My trump card is that I have not laid any of my cards yet,” he had said.
However, there was a growing indication that Khan was losing support. At least three allies, including the MQM-P, the PML-Q, and the BAP with their 17 members have indicated to join the Opposition.
25 March 2022: Pakistan’s National Assembly session was adjourned without the tabling of the no-trust motion against Khan.
Speaker Qaiser said that the session was adjourned until 4 pm on 28 March due to the demise of PTI lawmaker Khayal Zaman. According to Pakistan’s parliamentary conventions, the first sitting after the death of a lawmaker is limited to prayers for the departed soul and tributes from fellow lawmakers.
Opposition leaders protested against the adjournment of the session.
27 March 2022: At a massive rally in Islamabad, Imran Khan claimed foreign powers were behind the “conspiracy” to overthrow his government. Addressing a rally attended by thousands of supporters who were bussed in from around the country, the PM claimed he was the subject of a “foreign conspiracy” aimed at dislodging his government and that “funding was being channelled into Pakistan from abroad”.
“We have been threatened in writing but we will not compromise on national interests,” he said, without offering evidence or details.
28 March 2022: PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif tabled the no-trust motion against Khan, setting in motion the process in the lower house to remove the embattled cricketer-turned-politician from office.
Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri asked the members of the Parliament, who are in favour of the motion, to stand up to that their numbers could be counted. Sharif first moved a resolution to allow tabling of the no-confidence motion in the NA, which was approved by 161 yes votes.
30 March 2022: Khan lost the majority after MQM-P, a key ally of the PTI-led coalition government, sided with the Opposition. The MQM-P announced that it has parted ways with the government during a joint press conference of the opposition parties in Islamabad.
“We want to make a new beginning for politics of tolerance and true democracy,” MQM-P chief Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui told reporters.
31 March 2022: The Pakistan Parliament met to debate the no-trust motion. The assembly secretariat issued a 24-point agenda for the session and the no-confidence motion was fourth on the list.
The session was adjourned abruptly until 3 April after opposition lawmakers demanded an immediate vote on the motion.
1 April 2022: Imran Khan said that he had credible information about his life was in danger, while stating that he was not afraid and would continue his fight for an independent and democratic nation. He further said that early elections were the best option if he survived the no-confidence motion.
“Let me inform my nation that my life is at risk too. They have also planned for my character assassination. Not only myself but my wife too,” the beleaguered PM said.
Khan, who spoke to ARY News said the “establishment” gave him three options – the no-confidence vote, early elections or resignation as the prime minister. But the defiant leader refused to step down.
3 April 2022: The day will go down as one of the most dramatic days in the recent history of Pakistan politics. Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri blocked the no-trust motion against the PM and Pakistan President Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of Khan.
The Opposition was stunned and said they would challenge the order in the Pakistan Supreme Court.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said that all orders and actions initiated by the prime minister and president regarding the dissolution of the National Assembly would be subject to the court’s order, Dawn reported.
However, in a dramatic move, the Opposition approved the no-confidence motion against Khan in its own session of Parliament after it was dissolved by the president and declared that the no-trust motion was “successful” with nearly 200 votes.
The result of the vote was announced by PML(N) leader and former speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, who presided over the sitting on Sunday as a member of the panel of chairpersons that had been announced by Speaker Asad Qaiser at the start of the National Assembly session on March 25, the Dawn reported.
The opposition declared the proceedings legal and valid although it was conducted without the secretariat staff support and even without the sound system, it said. They declared the no-confidence motion against Khan successful with 197 votes. It also reportedly announced that Shehbaz Sharif was the new PM.
4 April 2022: Chief Justice Bandial said on Monday that the apex court would issue a “reasonable order” on the legality of the current situation in the country. During the hearing today, the court rejected a plea by Farooq H. Naek, who is representing the PPP and other opposition parties, to form a full-court bench to hear the matter.
With inputs from agencies