Pakistan Live Updates: Prime Minister Dissolves Parliament, Blocking Move to Oust Him

Credit…Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Prime Minister Imran Khan dissolved Pakistan’s National Assembly and called for new elections on Sunday, blocking a no-confidence vote that had been widely expected to remove him from office.

The maneuver seemed to raise the possibility of a constitutional crisis. Stunned opposition lawmakers said that they would challenge the move before the country’s Supreme Court later Sunday. Allies of Mr. Khan said that the court had no authority to intervene in the legislature’s business.

In a televised speech to the country, Mr. Khan confirmed that he had ordered the legislature dissolved. He justified it by claiming, as he has repeatedly in recent days, that the move to oust him from office was part of an American conspiracy.

“Prepare for elections. No corrupt forces will decide what the future of the country will be,” Mr. Khan said.

As the assembly’s Sunday session opened, Mr. Khan’s ouster had seemed all but certain. Last week, several parties in his coalition abandoned him, giving the opposition the majority it needed to remove him from office.

But the deputy speaker, Qasim Khan Suri, an ally of Mr. Khan, rejected the motion for a no-confidence vote. He said that Mr. Khan was still the prime minister and still had the power to dissolve the assembly. Pakistan’s president later confirmed that he had carried out Mr. Khan’s instruction to do so.

The move clearly took the opposition by surprise. Its leader, Shehbaz Sharif, held quick meetings with his party leaders as they tried to figure out their next steps.

“It’s been a sad day in Pakistan history. Nascent democracy has been hit and damaged in a very, very brutal way,” said Mr. Sharif, who had been expected to become the interim prime minister if Mr. Khan had been removed from office.

Opposition lawmakers refused to leave the National Assembly building, apparently hoping to bring pressure on the Supreme Court to act. A handful of lawmakers from Mr. Khan’s party waved their fists as they left the building, repeatedly shouting, “Imran Khan, your supporters are countless in number.”

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