Deja Vu in Pakistan

SUNDAY was full of successive dramatic developments in Islamabad. When National Assembly gathered for the no-confidence motion, Deputy Speaker  Qasim Khan Suri who is from the ruling party rejected the no-trust motion against Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan amid uproar in Parliament. Suri said the motion was being moved at the behest of a foreign power as alleged by Khan who blamed America for acting behind the scenes to topple his government.  Khan has claimed that assistant secretary of state for south and central Asian affairs Donald Lu was allegedly involved in the "foreign conspiracy" and had sent a threatening message to him through Pakistan's ambassador to the US Asad Majeed.

After the rejection of the no-trust motion,  Khan advised Pakistan President Arif Alvi to dissolve the national assembly which he did. The president also called for elections in 90 days. Imran Khan has reportedly been appointed as an interim prime minister for fifteen days following which a caretaker administration comprising all parties will be formed until elections are held.

Pakistan Army has so far acted neutral in the deepening constitutional crisis.  Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar told the media that the military had nothing to do with what happened at the National Assembly on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has taken suo moto notice of the rejection of the no-trust motion. The court is set to rule on it on Tuesday after adjourning the hearing on Monday. The situation as a result has become very uncertain in the country. It remains to be seen what order the court passes and that will determine the future course of action for the political parties including Khan.

However, the constitutional crisis that the country has been plunged into is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. Khan’s allegations against the opposition parties are of a very serious nature. He has built up a strong case that they were acting at the behest of a foreign country. And the communique he waved at a rally in Islamabad has also been discussed in Pakistan’s National Security Council. The US has meanwhile denied that it was involved in any conspiracy to engineer a regime change in Pakistan.

Khan has cast himself as the champion of an independent foreign policy for Pakistan which he alleges the US wants to change. Earlier, he had praised India’s foreign policy at a public rally in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Khan lauded India for importing crude oil from Russia despite American sanctions. Ever since he has spoken at one more major rally in Islamabad and also addressed the nation several times on television to mobilize public opinion against the opposition.

Going forward, the situation looks very uncertain. The best way out of the constitutional logjam for the country would be for the political parties to go back to the people and hold fresh elections. The alternative to this is the lingering political turmoil and a deeper constitutional crisis.

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