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Pakistan court adjourns hearing on PM’s bid to stay in power

Pakistan’s Supreme Court adjourned until Wednesday (April 6) a hearing to decide the legality of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s blocking of an opposition bid to oust him.

This dispute has led to political turmoil in the nuclear-armed country.

Khan lost his parliamentary majority last week and had been facing a no-confidence vote tabled by a united opposition that he was expected to lose on Sunday (April 3).

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 country of 220 million people, ruled by the military for extended periods since independence in 1947, into a full-blown constitutional crisis.

The opposition challenged Khan’s decision in a legal case in the Supreme Court that began on Monday (April 4).

Shehbaz Sharif, the opposition candidate likely to replace Khan as prime minister should the court rule against Khan, told media that he had urged army and intelligence chiefs to look into Khan’s accusation.

The hearing was adjourned on Tuesday (April 5) after legal arguments against the move were concluded. The court will hear from Khan’s team on Wednesday.

The court could order that parliament be reconstituted, call for a new election or bar Khan from standing again if he is found to have acted unconstitutionally.

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

The turmoil threatens to damage ties with long-time ally the United States, after Khan accused it of being behind the plot to overthrow him.

The United States dismissed the accusation.

Pakistan’s security agencies have not found credible evidence to confirm Khan’s complaint of a foreign conspiracy, an official with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

(Production: Salah Uddin, Sheree Sardar)

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