04/09/2022, 17.20
PAKISTAN
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Khan pledges street protests as National Assembly set for no-confidence vote

by Shafique Khokhar

The final vote, which is expected Saturday evening, should see the opposition harness enough support against the government. For his part, Prime Minister Khan has accepted the Supreme Court’s ruling, but urged his followers to “protect your sovereignty" tomorrow in a street protest. Christian leaders warn that if politicians fail to solve the crisis, the country will suffer the consequences. They also call for action in favour of minorities.

 

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Pakistan’s National Assembly is in session today after the Supreme Court overruled Deputy Speaker Arif Alvi who, on the advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan, cancelled a no-confidence vote against his government and dissolved the lower house of parliament.

The vote of no-confidence should take place this evening, and the outcome is expected to go against Khan after several defections from the coalition led by his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. This gives the opposition at least 172 votes, a majority in the 342-member National Assembly.

Last night Imran Khan addressed the nation in a televised speech in which he said he was “saddened” by Thursday’s decision by the Supreme Court but accepted it. However, he reiterated his accusations of interference against the United States, adding that his party would not accept an “imported government”.

Khan went on to call on his supporters to take to the streets tomorrow evening after the Ramadan fast, urging them “to protect your sovereignty" without violence or causing damage to property.

Meanwhile, the political stalemate of the past week continues to dominate public life.

For the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the Supreme Court ruling was a good thing. It is imperative that the court not compromise on any aspect of the constitution. Its decision will have a long-term effect and strengthen constitutional democracy.

Pakistan Christian Association president Saleem Rajput told AsiaNews that the crisis should not dominate the country’s political life and the work of the government, leaving everything else at a standstill, prey to an already rampant lawlessness.

“If the political situation is not brought under control, both the economy and society will suffer greatly and revival will be impossible,” Rajput said.

“Recently, the country's economy has been severely hit and the debt has increased. If politicians do not stop humiliating each other, the country will suffer the consequences.”

“The Supreme Court’s ruling will serve as a precedent to reaffirm the primacy of the constitution and the stability of democracy in Pakistan,” said Fr Khalid Rashid Asi, from the Justice and Peace Commission, speaking to AsiaNews.

"However, pro-democracy forces must not overstep their limits; instead, they must let parliament follow its own path without any interference and delaying tactics.”

Fr Asi also would like to see the Supreme Court look at the current situation of minorities in the political process.

“We demand better electoral reforms before the next elections, so that Christians can vote for their representatives, who can address minority issues in a better way.”

For Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), the use of religion and anti-American slogans are not new, but have always been dangerous for Pakistan’s stability.

In his view, Imran Khan contradicts himself when, in his last speech, he pledged to reserve seats for women and minorities while making unproven accusations that some lawmakers took money from the opposition to vote in favour of the no-confidence petition.

"The practice of democratic values ​​rather than the use of religion in politics favours Pakistani minorities,” he added.

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