Pakistan court to hear Khan’s defense of blocking ouster

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Pakistan’s top court will on Wednesday hear Prime Minister Imran Khan’s legal team defend his bid to block an opposition bid to oust him, a move his critics say was unconstitutional and which has ushered in a new phase of political turmoil.

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Khan, a former cricket star, lost his parliamentary majority last week and had been facing a no-confidence vote tabled by the opposition that he was expected to lose on Sunday.

But the deputy speaker of parliament, a member of Khan’s party, threw out the motion, ruling it was part of a foreign conspiracy and unconstitutional. Khan then dissolved parliament.

The stand-off has thrown the nuclear-armed country of 220 million people, ruled by the military for extended periods since independence in 1947, into a full-blown constitutional crisis.

The opposition has challenged the decision to block the vote in the Supreme Court, which began deliberating the case on Monday. The court will on Wednesday hear from lawyers for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

The Supreme Court panel of five judges has not said when it will give a ruling. It could order parliament be reconstituted, call for fresh elections or bar Khan from power if he is found to have violated the constitution.

It could also decide that it cannot intervene in parliamentary affairs.

Pakistan’s military is facing growing opposition calls to weigh in on the legitimacy of Khan’s complaints about a foreign plot against him, which he said was being orchestrated by the United States.

The United States dismissed the accusation.

A senior leader of the opposition, Maryam Nawaz, said the military should clarify if it had told a top-level security meeting that the United States had conspired with the opposition to topple his government, as Khan has said it did.

“Imran Khan has used the National Security Committee for his political gains,” she said late on Tuesday.

Pakistan’s military has not confirmed or denied Khan’s accusation but an official with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified, told Reuters on Tuesday that security agencies had not found credible evidence to confirm Khan’s complaint of a conspiracy.

The military has stepped in to remove civilian governments and take over on three occasions, citing the need to end political uncertainty, though it says it is not involved in politics.

Read more:

Pakistan PM Khan’s survival on the line as parliament set to vote

Pakistan parliament rejects Khan no-confidence motion, blames foreign interference

Pakistan supreme court to hear arguments on parliament dissolution

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