loader

PR Comments


Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 366, 22 July 2022

Supreme Court verdict on the no-trust motion against Imran Khan

The Supreme Court’s verdict on Qasim Khan Suri’s ruling on the no-trust move highlights the cracks in Pakistan’s parliament

Abigail Miriam Fernandez

On 13 July, the Supreme Court issued a detailed judgment explaining the reasons behind its decision to set aside a ruling by former National Assembly speaker Qasim Khan Suri on 3 April which dismissed the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan. The ruling held that Suri’s ruling and the subsequent actions of then PM Imran Khan and President prima facie infringed the fundamental rights of the opposition parties and the public at large.

What does the judgment say?
The 87-page unanimous judgment issued by a five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail observed that the summary dismissal of the Resolution of No Confidence (RNC) by the Deputy Speaker on 3 April 2022 on which basis the President, whilst following the advice of the PM, dissolved the NA prima facie contravened not only the express command of Article 95 of the Constitution but also repudiated the rule of law which is an indispensable foundation of parliamentary democracy envisaged by the Constitution. The judgment added that, in the result, the Deputy Speaker’s ruling and the actions of the PM and the President defeated the right of the Opposition Parties to test their voting strength in support of the RNC and if successful, to form the next Government in exercise of their fundamental right under Article 17(2) of the Constitution.

It added that rather than following the constitutional course prescribed in Article 91(4) of the Constitution for the election of a new Prime Minister, the people were unlawfully forced into an election due to the prima facie unconstitutional dissolution of the NA at the hands of the Deputy Speaker and the PM. As a result, a constitutional crisis was, therefore, created in the country on 3 April 2022. 

Justice Bandial observed that the 3 April ruling failed to qualify for the protection of the internal proceedings of parliament under Article 69(1) as it was “not the outcome of a vote in the national assembly instead, it was a unilateral decision.”

Further, the court observed that no observation was made to the effect that the RNC was moved by the opposition parties or by persons in Pakistan in conspiracy with a foreign state; and no inquiry/investigation was ordered into the matter to ascertain the nature or extent of involvement of any person in Pakistan to seek or receive the support of a foreign state to move the RNC.

What does the ruling mean for Imran Khan?
Following the judgement, Imran Khan expressed his disappointment and stated that the Supreme Court should have probed the issue after President Arif Alvi shared it with the chief justice. He said, “I feel deeply hurt” by the remarks made by the court that there was no investigation regarding the threat letter, adding, “I produced the cipher before the federal cabinet. We have the minutes of the meeting. I took this letter to the meeting of the National Security Committee and even tabled it in parliament.” Additionally, Fawad Chaudhry has termed the decision ‘political’, questioning the timing of its release just before the Punjab by-elections. However, through the judgement, Imran Khan’s narrative of foreign interference has been invalidated. This means Imran Khan's argument that foreign hand would cease to become a rallying point through which he can target the opposition. 

What does the ruling mean for the ruling coalition government?
The government welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stating that it had exposed the “lies and propaganda” of Imran Khan and his government. He said, “Utterly shameful how Imran Khan tried to undermine the Constitution and manufactured the lie of regime change,” adding that the judgment was a “must read” for everyone. Similarly, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar also welcomed the verdict stating that it would serve as an example in the future. Further, the government went on to call for the resignation of President Alvi with PML-N Senator Dr Afnanullah Khan submitting a resolution in the Senate, urging the government to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Alvi. Thus, for the ruling coalition, the judgment acts ask a means of validating their actions as well as justifying their move for a no-trust motion against Imran Khan.

Where does the question of Article 6 lie in the judgment? 
Justice Mazahar Alam Khan Miankhel noted that the exercise of authority was a sacred trust which was violated by the president, then PM, the then speaker, the then deputy speaker and the then law minister. He said, “Whether these acts attract Article 6 of the Constitution (high treason) is also left open to be determined by the parliamentarians to ponder should they leave open the doors for such unconstitutional acts or take suitable measures to stop such like mess in future.” 

According to Article 6 of the Constitution, “Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.”

According to legal experts, the events of 3 April cannot be termed as treason as they are not tantamount to abrogation or subversion. Experts warn that the gravity of such an offence is cheapened when it is used so casually. Additionally, they argue that it would not be wise for one elected government to charge another with treason against the state as this would set a bad precedent. Further, on the calls for the President’s resignation, experts cite Article 248(2) of the Constitution which states, “no criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President [...] in any court during his term of office.”

What does the judgment say about parliamentary proceedings?
Pakistan’s history is checkered with instances in which the Constitution was subverted, violated and held in abeyance by military rulers while the judiciary comes in to take extra-constitutional steps under the doctrine of necessity. The first hit to the Constitution comes from Pakistan’s parliamentary politics. Often elected representatives defy the political process leading to constitutional and political crises. 

To strengthen parliament, there needs to be a discussion on policy issues and reach a consensus despite competing interests. However, parliament proceedings have been taken over by heated confrontations and blame games. Thus, the parliament in Pakistan has become a weak institution unable to carry out its responsibilities. The solution lies however in allowing the parliament to reign supreme. The events that unfolded on 3 April could have been avoided had lawmakers respected parliamentary proceedings and the constitution. 

References
Nasir Iqbal, “Suri’s unilateral ruling did not enjoy parliamentary immunity: SC,” Dawn, 14 July 2022
Nasir Iqbal, “SC ruling makes national security subject to judicial review,” Dawn, 16 July 2022
SC on Suri’s ruling,” Dawn, 16 July 2022
Imran ‘deeply hurt’ by detailed SC judgement,” Dawn, 16 July 2022
Govt hails SC's reasons for setting aside Qasim Suri's controversial ruling; PTI highlights 'contradictions',” Dawn, 14 July 2022 
Suri’s Ruling, PM Advice Violated Basic Rights: SC,” The Nation, 14 July 2022
Khawaja Burhan Uddin, “Was PTI's move to scuttle no-trust vote high treason? Legal experts weigh in,” Geo News, 16 July 2022
Saeed Shafqat, “Why is the Parliament weak in Pakistan?” Research Gate, July 2020

Recent PR Comments

Punjab’s new Chief Minister: A profile of Chaudhry Parvez Elahi

PR Profiles: Parvez Elahi

The PTI’s issue with the ECP stems from technical differences and mistrust

PTI’s Election Commission Problem

The tendency of current superior judges to impersonate constitutional interpretation is an emerging trend since the 2010s

The superior judiciary in Pakistan is divided: Four reasons why

Geo-economic aspirations of Pakistan against the backdrop of geo-politics of South Asia

Geo-economics and Pakistan: A critique

The Supreme Court’s verdict on Qasim Khan Suri’s ruling on the no-trust move highlights the cracks in Pakistan’s parliament

Supreme Court verdict on the no-trust motion against Imran Khan

Pakistan is not yet done with Imran Khan and the urge for change

PTI’s return in Punjab: three takeaways and three implications

The relations between Pakistan and US are likely to remain largely security-centric despite the reset

Pakistan and the US: Three factors contributing to a reset

Gilgit-Baltistan approves USD 596 billion while Azad Jammu and Kashmir presents an outlay of USD 818 billion

GB & AJK: Budget 2022

The recent economic engagements between Islamabad and Paris highlight a renewed efforts to boost bilateral ties

Pakistan and France: A positive U-turn

What would happen to the Chaudhry empire, as the Chaudhrys stand divided across the two generations?

The PML-Q, and the split within the Chaudhrys

The crackdown on the PTI’s long march reveals the government’s apprehensions

The idea of marches: PTI takes to the street with its ‘Azadi March’

The economy being perceived at ‘nazuk mod’ indicates moment is apt for external financing to keep above the threshold of bailout and look within

Erosion of Pakistani Rupee: Three causes and multiple consequences

Decreasing groundwater and desertification, Himalayan floods and inter-provincial risk sharing will become climate change-induced problems

Effects of Climate Change: Problems of groundwater depletion and beyond

Pakistan and Afghanistan would benefit from a treaty to manage the Kabul River

Kabul River Agreement: Three reasons why there is no treaty

The Establishment is no more a sacrosanct, holy, and unassailable.

Pakistan’s Establishment is upset: Four reasons why

The “AJK” politics continues to remain a playground for Islamabad

Political Instability in “Azad Jammu and Kashmir”

The recent attacks by the TTP and Pakistan across the Durand Line highlights the bilateral fault lines between Pakistan and Afghanistan

A hot Durand Line: TTP, Pakistan, Taliban and the coming anarchy

Three reasons why three discussions with the IMF that were stalled a month ago look promising now

Negotiations with the IMF: New government, old issues

The frequent attacks on Chinese nationals by the BLA highlight the revamping of the Baloch insurgency

Who, Why, and Beijing's response: Karachi suicide attack on the Chinese targets

Imran Khan’s tenure was a culmination of multiple factors, which unravelled as the establishment retreated

Rise and Fall of Imran Khan

PTI’s governance deficit, shifting power structure and acquiring its lost bases, contributed to MQM-P’s decision to cross the floor

MQM-P quits the PTI coalition: Four reasons why

It's experience with the PML-N and decision to find space in Punjab has factored in the PML-Q’s decision to continue supporting the PTI

Political crisis: Three reasons, why the PML-Q decide not to quit the PTI coalition

The numbers in the Parliament are increasing against Imran Khan. The Establishment is staying out.

Time for Imran to go?: The 172 reasons

Lack of accountability and impunity are two main causes for the continuing case of disappearances in Pakistan

Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan: The problems of impunity and accountability

The fourth-generation aircraft will add wings to the technological capability of combat aviation and its air warfare

Pakistan Air Force inducts J-10C: Three Takeaways

PPP’s long march is aimed to showcase Bilawal’s political prowess and prepare for the general elections

PPP’s Long March: Three Takeaways

The economy and geography of Karachi make the city the fourth-largest air polluted city

Karachi is the world’s fourth-largest polluted city. Two reasons why

The fifth annual March prioritized equal wages, security and peace; however, these demands must be sustained, to achieve gender equality

Aurat March 2022: Big Dreams, Small Steps

The Opposition has finally filed a no-confidence motion against Imran Khan. But, does it have enough numbers in the Parliament to carry the process?

The no-confidence against Imran: Between the motion and the voting

The report by the International Crises Group stresses sustained efforts to reduce discrimination.

Women and Peacebuilding: The case of northwest Pakistan

While the march in the streets is aimed at mobilzing the people, the PPP will need the numbers in the Parliament to remove Imran Khan

PPP’s Long March: The twin strategy, the rhetoric, and realities

The bill aims to rationalize the demand side mechanism and nudge price levelling in other sectors

The new Gas bill: Four takeaways

Pakistan aims to deepen the relations with Russia and make use of the new strategic environment in its favour

Imran Khan’s maiden Russia visit: Four focus areas

The completion of the PSL 2022 and the arrival of the Australia team should be a new start. Will Pakistan ensure it does not become a false start?

The return of cricket: From the PSL to Australia in Pakistan

While the Aurat March is gaining support, there are also challenges as it gets ready for the fifth annual on 8 March 2022

Aurat March 2022: New Manifesto, Old Challenges

The Act, though aims at curbing fake news, it is also aimed at throttling the cyber freedom of speech

Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Act: Four takeaways

Sindh becomes the first province in the country to lift the ban on student unions

Students’ Union: Lifting the ban after three decades

 To secure a no-confidence motion against Imran, it has to break the PTI partners, and ensure Establishment’s neutrality

No-Confidence against Imran: The opposition is ready. What about the Establishment?

IMF seeks less financial ambiguity and financial stability in Pakistan, which is conducive to private sector-led innovation and competition led growth

IMF's latest report on Pakistan: Five major takeaways

Pakistan is likely to pressurize the international community, than force the Taliban to work towards an inclusive and humane governance

Pakistan and Taliban: What are Islamabad’s immediate priorities?

PM Khan’s visit as anticipated revolved around CPEC and investments

Imran’s meeting with Xi Jinping: All about CPEC and Chinese investments

With the inception of the first female judge in the Supreme Court, we can be hopeful that she will not be the last

Justice Ayesha Malik: Against all odds

Despite the browbeating and pressure tactics by PTI, the situation remains as it was

PTI and the Election Commission: Why is Imran Khan unhappy?

The PTI government’s performance is worse than the PML-N, according to the Transparency International report

Imran Khan vs Corruption: Popular perceptions and their political implications

The analysis provides two reasons for adopting a new baseline, and a critique of it

Pakistan’s Economy: A new baseline, with 2015-16

PM Khan’s visit to China seems to be aimed at securing further loans, seeking further economic investments, strengthening the CPEC projects

“Iron brothers” to meet again: Imran Khan’s forthcoming China Visit

Provincial politics, federal-provincial differences and economic woes will dominate the province in 2022

Sindh in 2022: Three issues to look for

Political change, social issues and economic growth are likely to dominate the KP during this year

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2022: Three likely issues

Local government elections, extremism and debate over the South Punjab province are likely to be the most prominent in 2022

Punjab in 2022: Five developments to look for

Political engineering, violence and protest for better governance will dominate the province in 2022

Balochistan in 2022: Three likely issues

Few political changes are taking place. But, a deeper analysis would reveal, the template remains the same

Internal Politics: The more it change…

The release is an attempt to enlighten citizens on the Government’s policy objectives to deal with traditional and non-traditional security threats

National Security Policy of Pakistan (2022-2026): Six Highlights

The  war against America and support of Pakistan for the Taliban has not pacified the tribal Pashtuns in their border claims on the Durand line

Durand Line: A dead horse or a deepest fear for Pakistan

Judicial Commission of Pakistan approving the nomination of Justice Ayesha Malik to the Supreme Court

Justice Ayesha: Breaking the Legal Ceiling

Three hits and three misses

Pakistan's Foreign Policy in 2021

Despite suffering from structural problems there were moments of cheer

Pakistan’s economy in 2021: Major highlights

It was a rollercoaster year for Pakistan. Like the previous year. And the previous years

2021: Where the PTI scored, missed and floundered, and what it means for 2022

The downfall of PTI in the KP local body polls is an indication of its own mistakes. Find out why?

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa LB polls: Shocking yet predicted loss for PTI

Approximately one-tenth of Pakistan's external public debt servicing was paid to the ADB.

Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank

The sense ranges from feebleness of the media to frustration about misaligned coverages of issues

Pakistani media’s response to the Justice Saqib Nisar audio leak| Major takeaways

The state officials must address long-standing student issues because the Student Solidarity March is only the beginning.

Student’s Solidarity March in Pakistan: A step in the right direction

Protests highlights that the unrest among the people of Gwadar is not only going unaddressed, but is also aggravating the situation.

Protests in Gwadar: Four major highlights

Pakistan has agreed to various conditions of IMF for continuation of a loan of USD 4.268 billion only while avoiding further Chinese loans

Mini budget, IMF and a contemporary puzzle.

The fortunes of the Pakistani cricket team in the recent ICC T20 World Cup are mirrored in some intense social media battles

Pakistan cricket: Social media an outlet for inflamed passions

PM Khan appoints Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum as DG Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in consonance with the Army Chief

Impasse over next ISI Chief over after 20 days of cordial silence

The judicial activism balances increasing curbs on digital media in the country. However, it’s a long road ahead

The fragility of Digital Media Freedom in Pakistan

A secret government deal with the TLP refers to releasing those who were arrested, and allowing the party to contest in elections

PTI’s TLP flip-flop and a secret deal

Time tested relationship in shifting sands of geopolitics of Gulf

Post IMF Review: Saudi Arabia to bolster Pakistan

Inflation is not just a number, but rather a multi-dimensional problem. If unattended, might create “a make or break” situation for the PTI

Pakistan’s prolonged Inflation problem

Why would the government accept most of its demands in October 2021?

TLP: The government caves in again

The recurring protests staged by the TLP highlights the fact that the state has failed to address political-religious issues

TLP is back again

In the recent past, several positive measures have been initiated to assist transgender persons; however, Pakistan has a long way to go.

Pakistan’s transgender community: The long road ahead

Another Chief Minister, another no-confidence motion

Political instability in Balochistan

The absence of a telephone call between President Joe Biden and Prime Imran Khan is an expression of the current US-Pak ties

Since January 2021: Why the US President has not called Pakistan’s Prime Minister so far?

The recent spate in honour attacks in Pakistan shows there is no end in sight to the problem.

No honour in honour killing

Achieving full potential in hydropower is an elusive dream given its declining water availability, inadequate infrastructure and finance.

Pakistan's Hydropower Sector: Contribution, Challenges and Prospects

Neither Imran Khan is powerful, nor his party is strong to take on the Establishment

Appointing the new ISI Chief: Why is Imran Khan delaying the notification? Who will blink?

Recent military reshuffle and the possible reasons behind it

The Military Reshuffle: A strategic or routine decision?

Dr Khan may have died a disappointed man on how the State treated him, but he would remain a hero for the nation

Dr AQ Khan: Between a national hero and a nuclear proliferator

The data driven world is tending to Pandora leaks by glossing over the common man’s syndrome of big personalities

Tax avoidance: From Panama papers to Pandora Papers

Poverty, taboos, societal norms, and a weak State response fuel the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the country

Rising child abuse in Pakistan: Five reasons why

The Hazaras in Pakistan have faced endless persecution despite state measures to protect the community

Hazara Persecution in Pakistan: No end in sight

Is the rest of Pakistan ready for the same?

Talking to the Pakistani Taliban: What did Imran say? And what does it mean?

Socio-economic pressures, limitations of healthcare sector, and lack of institutional mechanisms fuel the mental health crisis in Pakistan

Pakistan’s mental health crisis: Of apathy and State failure

Baloch nationalist opinion that the current initiative lacks seriousness

Dialogue with Baloch Insurgents: Will Imran Khan Succeed where others have failed

Four major challenges

Fighting Polio in Pakistan

A case study of TikTok

Social Media Censorship in Pakistan

The political rise and fall of a sugar baron

The curious case of Jahangir Khan Tareen

PR Debate

The Future of PDM: Will the Opposition alliance break up?

Between the government and the opposition, there are no winners

Senate Chairman Elections in Pakistan: Eight Takeaways

A tactical arrangement or a broader political goal?

Ceasefire at LoC: Understanding Pakistan's motivations

Three takeaways on PTI, PDM and the Election Commission

NA 75 Sialkot Daska By-Election

The Federal Government Employees’ demand a 40 per cent hike

Another protest in Islamabad

Why does the government want to change the voting procedure in the Parlaiment?

Pakistan's Senate problem

Will the PPP's no-confidence motion against Imran Khan succeed?

Is the PDM slowing down?

The people want to get rid of the constitutional and political limbo. Five reasons why

Gilgit Baltistan

Editorial

Pakistan bans three more organizations as proscribed, but the problem remains

Editorial

Smart Lockdown, SOPs vs Social Realities

Editorial

Khalilzad meets Gen Bajwa: What is Pakistan’s Afghan Endgame?

After Doha

The US-Taliban deal will lead to an Afghan Civil War

RIP Stephen Cohen

Call me Steve

Election 2018 Analysis -02

The Tehreek-e-Labbaik: Rise of the Radical

Election 2018 Analysis -01

The Naya Pakistan: Five Major Trends

Terrorism

Fighting Taliban and the Islamic State: Don't prioritize

India-Pakistan

Indo-Pak Dialogue Options: Importance of Back Channel

India-Pakistan

De-securitizing the Indus

India-Pakistan

Cross-LoC Interactions: Low Hanging Kashmir Fruit

Cricket

Honouring Younis and Misbah

Water

Scarcity, Institutions, Securitization: Our “Other” Water Issues

Terrorism

Fighting the Daesh: A Regional Counter IS Strategy

Civil-Military

The Husain Huqqani Revelation

Gender

Deep-rooted Misogyny: Offend her; she will forgive in the name of tradition

PIA

The Standing Passengers of PIA

External

Tehmina Janjua: Internal Challenges for the New Foreign Secretary

Cricket

Shahid Afridi: Well Played Hero

Society

Court, Society and Valentine Day: Is expression of love against our culture?

CPEC

Operationalising the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Af-Pak

Pakistan’s Afghan Policy: What Shapes? Who Shapes? And through What Strategies?

Terrorism

And Now, They Are Coming For Our Children

Education

The Axact Scam: Demands for Fake Degrees

Politics

Pakistan’s Panama Paradox: Demanding Accountability vs Fixing Sharifs