Pakistan's president has dissolved the national assembly on the advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who gets a reprieve after a no-confidence motion against his government is rejected in Parliament.
Pakistan looks set for fresh elections within "90 days" with the president dissolving parliament on the advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has sidestepped a coordinated attempt by the opposition to unseat him.
National assembly deputy speaker blocked a no-confidence motion against Khan's government on Sunday, setting off a flurry of activities in Pakistan's political arena amid protests by the opposition against the move.
"I have sent advice to the president to dissolve the assemblies... We will go to the public and hold elections and let the nation decide," Khan said in an address on state TV, referring to national and state legislatures.
He reiterated his charge that there had been interference in Pakistan's democratic institutions, and an interim government should be formed to hold fresh elections.
The presidency — a largely ceremonial office — acceded hours later. “The President of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi, has approved the advice of the Prime Minister (to dissolve Parliament),” a statement from his office said.
Separately, State Minister for Information Farrukh Habib announced in a tweet that the elections "will be held in 90 days".
The President of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi, has approved the advice of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to dissolve the National Assembly under the Article 58 (1) read with Article 48(1) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.— The President of Pakistan (@PresOfPakistan) April 3, 2022
Nothing to do with the political process – army
"Army has nothing to do with the political process," Major General Babar Iftikhar, the head of the military's public relations wing, told Reuters news agency in response to a question about the institution's involvement in Sunday's developments.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court said it is aware of Sunday's political developments in the country.
The chief justice "has taken notice of current situation. Further details will be shared soon," the chief justice's office said in a statement.
Khan has been facing the biggest challenge to his rule since his election in 2018, with opponents accusing him of economic mismanagement and bungling foreign policy. No premier of Pakistan has ever completed a full term.
Parliament was due to debate a no-confidence motion on Khan on Sunday, but the deputy speaker refused to accept it, causing uproar in the chamber.
"I rule out this no-confidence motion in accordance with the constitution," deputy speaker Qasim Suri, a Khan loyalist, said as the session started.
The opposition, which said it would stage a protest sit-in in parliament, called the deputy speaker's ruling illegal and vowed to go to Pakistan's Supreme Court.
This day will be remembered as a black day in Pakistan's constitutional history
Pakistan heads towards early general elections that were originally scheduled to be held in the next two years pic.twitter.com/ekMOyGnmVb— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) April 3, 2022
Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) effectively lost its majority in the 342-member assembly last week when a coalition partner said its seven lawmakers would vote with the opposition.
More than a dozen PTI lawmakers had also indicated they would cross the floor. The opposition needed 172 votes for the motion against Khan's government to succeed.
Earlier this week, Khan accused the United States of meddling in affairs of Pakistan, a country of 220 million people. Washington has denied the charge.
Khan was elected after promising to sweep away decades of corruption and cronyism, but has struggled to maintain support with inflation skyrocketing, a feeble rupee and crippling debt.
His government is credited with maintaining a foreign reserve account of $18 billion and bringing in a record $29 billion last year from overseas Pakistanis. His government has also received praise for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.