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Pakistan Political Crisis: Supreme Court order calling for no-trust vote challenged

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Islamabad, Apr 09: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on Saturday filed a review petition against the Supreme Court's verdict on the Deputy Speaker's ruling over the no-trust motion in the National Assembly.

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Pakistan Parliament's crucial session to take up a no-confidence motion against defiant Prime Minister Imran Khan resumed after a long adjournment on Saturday and voting on the motion is expected to take place in the evening after a discussion on the so-called "foreign conspiracy" against his government.

Taking the floor, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif hailed Thursday as a historic day in Pakistan's history when the Supreme Court rejected the deputy speaker's ruling and said that the apex court's decision had made the country's future "bright".

He called on Speaker Qaiser to conduct proceedings in accordance with the court's directives, stating that Parliament would be writing history today. "Today, Parliament is going to defeat a 'selected prime minister' in a constitutional manner," he said.

Shehbaz told the Speaker to let bygones be bygones and to stand for the law and the Constitution, urging him to play his role and to have his name "written in history in golden words".

"You must cash in on this moment with conviction and with your heart and your mind. Don't go on the dictation of the selected prime minister," he said. Responding to Shehbaz, the Speaker assured him that he would conduct proceedings according to the law and the Constitution. "(But) the important thing is that there has been talk of an international conspiracy. This should also be discussed," he said, as the hall echoed with protests from the Opposition benches.

This prompted Shehbaz to tell Qaiser that he would be violating the court's directives if he went down that road. He also read out the apex court's directives regarding the convening of the session. "Under the court's directives, you are bound to take up this agenda item and no other item.

That is the intent of the order and you cannot deviate from it," he said, calling on the Speaker to hold voting on the motion forthwith.

"The Supreme Court's orders will be followed in true letter and spirit," Qaiser replied, giving the floor to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Qureshi said that the Opposition had the right to table a no-trust motion against the prime minister, but asserted that defending it was his obligation. "We intend to fight it in a constitutional, political and democratic manner," the close aide of Khan, asserted. Talking about constitutional violations, he said that it was obligatory "on us to respect the Constitution".

"As the prime minister said yesterday, he is disappointed but has accepted the court's decision," Qureshi said, referring to Khan's address to the nation on Friday. Speaker Qaisar adjourned the session until 12.30 PM (13:00 IST) after slight disturbance between the treasury and opposition benches. The session, however, resumed after more than three-and-a-half hours of break. F

oreign Minister Qureshi, who was speaking when the session was interrupted, continued his address after the break. Sources told Geo News that the session had been deliberately delayed and the PTI ministers would try to make their speeches lengthier. PML-N's Khawaja Saad Rafique, speaking in the NA after the adjournment, said that the speaker had promised that voting would be held after Iftar.

A delegation of the Opposition leaders met with National Assembly Speaker Qaiser in his chamber and demanded immediate voting on the no-confidence motion that could seal the fate of Khan.

The Opposition parties need 172 members in the 342-member house to orchestrate the downfall of Prime Minister Khan. They have garnered the support of more than the needed strength with the help of some allies of the ruling coalition and rebels from Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

In a landmark 5-0 verdict on Thursday, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial ruled that NA deputy speaker Qasim Suri's ruling rejecting a no-confidence motion against Khan was "contrary to the Constitution". No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term in office.

Meanwhile, the Opposition has completed its initial talks for the formation of a new government once Prime Minister Khan is ousted. Shehbaz, 70, who is the Opposition's candidate for the new prime minister, will announce his possible government priorities after taking the oath.

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