Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party on March 1 suspended its “Jail Bharo Tehreek” (court arrest movement) after the Supreme Court ordered the Election Commission to hold polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces within 90 days of the dissolution of the assemblies as stipulated by the Constitution.
The Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies were dissolved on January 14 and 18 respectively by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as part of its bid to force early general elections in the country.
A five-member Bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial issued the decision on Wednesday that paved the way for elections in the two provinces, currently run by interim governments.
The court also ruled that President Arif Alvi’s orders to hold elections on April 9 will be binding on the Punjab assembly but not on the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly, as the latter was dissolved by the Governor, while the former was not.
“We welcome the SC judgement. It was responsibility of SC to uphold Constitution & they have valiantly done that through their judgement today. It is an assertion of Rule of Law in Pak. We are suspending our Jail Bharo movement & moving forward with election campaigns in KP & Punjab,” Mr. Khan tweeted.
The former cricketer-turned-politician’s tweet comes a day after 280 activists from his party were arrested during the last two days, taking the total number of arrests to 600.
Mr. Khan kicked off the “Jail Bharo Tehreek” on February 22 from Lahore over what he called was a gross violation of human rights in the country, abuse of the Constitution and an economic meltdown.
Mr. Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a U.S.-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan.
The PTI chief, who came to power in 2018, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament.
Since his ouster, Mr. Khan has been clamouring for immediate elections to oust what he termed was an “imported government” led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Mr. Sharif has maintained that elections will be held later this year once the Parliament completes its five-year tenure.