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Pakistan's Supreme Court Resumes Hearing Into Embattled PM’s Bid To Stay In Power


Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (third left) and President Arif Alvi (third right) watch Pakistani Air Force fighter jets perform during a Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad on March 23.

Pakistan's Supreme Court has resumed its deliberations on the legality of political maneuvers that led Prime Minister Imran Khan to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections after he faced a no-confidence vote.

"Our concern is about the legality of the ruling of the speaker," Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said as a panel of five judges reconvened on April 5.

"We don't want to indulge in policy matters."

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

But the deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Qasim Suri, a member of Khan's Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI) party, rejected the motion as unconstitutional and part of a foreign conspiracy.

The ruling allowed Khan to get the presidency -- a largely ceremonial role -- to dissolve parliament and order an election, which must be held within 90 days.

The opposition filed a petition to the Supreme Court to rule on whether the move to block the vote was constitutional. The hearing began on April 4. The court has not said when it might hand down its ruling.

The standoff has thrown the nuclear-armed country of 220 million people, which the military has ruled for extended periods since independence in 1947, into political turmoil.

President Arif Alvi added to the tension by issuing a letter to the opposition saying that if they didn't nominate a candidate for interim prime minister, the process would continue without them.

Khan has already nominated former Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad for the role.

Khan had claimed that the no-confidence motion was an attack against him by the United States in retaliation for his close relations with Russia and China. But Washington has rejected that accusation.

The opposition accuses Khan of mismanaging the economy and foreign policy, and political analysts also say Khan has fallen out with Pakistan's powerful military, whose support is critical for any party to attain power.

Khan denies ever having the backing of the military, and the military also maintains that it has no involvement in the political process.

With reporting by Reuters and BBC

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