Pakistan president dissolves National Assembly amid fears of slide toward authoritarianism

In a move decried by critics as constitutional subversion and an attack on democracy, Pakistani President Arif Alvi on Sunday affirmed the dissolution of the country’s National Assembly, which earlier that day had been set to undertake a vote of no confidence against the country’s prime minister, Imran Khan.

The National Assembly had planned on Sunday to hold a vote of no confidence against Khan, who then sent shockwaves by dissolving the legislative body and calling for new elections.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) issued a joint statement condemning the acts of the president, the prime minister, and Qasim Khan Suri, a Khan ally and deputy speaker of the National Assembly, who helped derail the no-confidence vote. The statement said their actions “amount to subverting the constitution of Pakistan and an attack on democracy by not allowing voting on a vote of no confidence and then ordering to dissolve the assemblies,” adding: “This will push the country towards anarchy and authoritarianism.”

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), a prominent opposition party, said: “We cannot under any circumstances compromise on the constitution. The Supreme Court must rise to the challenge and prove our constitution is more than a piece of paper. If we can’t implement the constitution on the floor of the National Assembly, we can’t dream of constitutional supremacy anywhere else.”

According to local media reports, the Supreme Court took up the case, and began hearings on Monday.