The voting on a no-confidence motion against Pakistan PM Imran Khan began in the National Assembly just a few minutes after midnight on Sunday.
The Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri resigned just minutes before the session resumed, saying that they don't want to be part of a 'foreign conspiracy' to topple the government.
The current session is being chaired by Ayaz Sadiq, Geo News reported.
Earlier, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umra Ata Bandial ordered the opening of the Supreme Court as the National Assembly Speaker refused to allow voting on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, ARY News reported.
The apex court said that it would take legal action if the voting is not held.
This came after Opposition leaders urged the SC to intervene as the Pakistan National Assembly session has been adjourned for the fourth time today after Speaker Asad Qaiser refused to conduct voting on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, local media reported.
According to Geo News, Qaiser said that he has had a relationship of 30 years with Imran Khan and he can't end that, even if it means facing contempt of court.'
On Thursday, the top court had set aside the National Assembly deputy speaker's ruling dismissing a no-confidence motion against Khan on 3 April. It also ordered that a no-trust vote take place against the PM on 9 April. Failure to do so will amount to 'contempt of court.'
'Violation of SC order,' says Opposition
The Opposition which is getting increasingly frustrated with the delays has accused the speaker of colluding with Khan in a bid to delay the no-confidence motion.
PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Khan's decision to summon his cabinet shows that there is "clearly no intention to hold voting" on the confidence motion today.
debate in NA is illegal. not part of agenda on 3rd April no confidence session. Clearly malafide 10:30am agenda is yet to start. Spkr ignores demands to implement court order. Calling cabinet meeting at 9pm shows clear intent not to vote today. collusion b/w pm & speaker is clear
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) April 9, 2022
PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif had urged the Supreme Court to take suo moto cognizance of the "brazen violation of the court order" by Khan and the Assembly speaker and deputy speaker.
Supreme Court of Pakistan must take immediate suo motto notice of brazen violation of its decision & order arrests of Imran Khan, Speaker & Deputy Speaker before he blows everything up. Bureaucracy/administrations should refuse to comply with any orders coming from the government
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) April 9, 2022
Meanwhile, Khan summoned his cabinet to his residence after his government filed a review petition challenging the Supreme Court verdict that ordered today's no-trust vote.
Plea filed to bar Imran Khan from sacking Army chief
According to ARY News, the Islamabad High Court has also opened and is set to take up a petition to restrain Khan from replacing Army chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa, Dawn reported.
The petition aims to bar Khan from using his 'arbitrary powers.' However, earlier Khan said that he was not seeking to remove Bajwa, ARY News reported.
What has happened so far
The Assembly met on 9 April to vote on the no-confidence motion against Khan, on the directives of the top court. The prime minister has no far not attended the session.
A joint Opposition that spans the political spectrum from left to radically religious said it has the 172 votes needed in Pakistan's 342-seat Parliament to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan.
However, the voting kept getting delayed on account of namaaz and iftar.
'Foreign threat letter'
Earlier in the day during the Assembly session, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had called his Pakistani counterpart and advised him against travelling to Russia.
“Where in the world does any sovereign state gets direction from other countries and which independent country accepts such directions?" Geo News quoted him as saying.
Earlier, Imran Khan had said that he received a "threat letter" which proved the involvement of a foreign hand behind the move to oust him from power.
Khan visited Moscow on 23 February just hours before Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine.
No-trust vote against Khan on 3 April
On 3 April, the joint Opposition tabled a no-confidence motion against Imran Khan in the 342-member National Assembly, saying that his government was responsible for the "current economic crisis in the country." Several lawmakers of the ruling PTI switched camps ahead of the voting day, leaving Khan with little support to survive the motion.
However, on D-Day, the deputy speaker of Assembly Qasim Khan Suri dismissed the motion against Khan who came to power in 2018.
Opposition leaders then moved the apex court which later gave a verdict in their favour.
A five-judge bench on Thursday unanimously voted against the dissolution of the National Assembly by President Arif Alvi at the behest of Khan who called for early polls.
It noted that by asking the president to do so PM Imran Khan violated Article 58 of the Constitution.
Under Article 58, the National Assembly cannot be dissolved if there is a no-trust vote against the government, NDTV reported.
Politics in Pakistan is heavily dominated by the army and has remained mostly unstable. No Pakistani PM has been able to complete a full five-year term in office.
With inputs from agencies