Pakistan's Supreme Court has adjourned without ruling on Prime Minister Imran Khan's shock decision to dissolve parliament and call a snap election, sidestepping a no-confidence vote that would have seen him booted from office.
The court, which will sit again tomorrow, received a slew of suits and petitions from the government and opposition after the deputy speaker of the national assembly refused Sunday to allow debate on a no-confidence motion against Mr Khan's administration.
Simultaneously, Mr Khan asked the presidency - a largely ceremonial office held by a loyalist - to dissolve the assembly, meaning an election must be held within 90 days.
According to the constitution, the prime minister cannot ask for the assembly to be dissolved while he is facing a no-confidence vote.
Farooq Naek, a lawyer representing petitioners seeking to overturn the assembly dissolution, told the supreme court it wasn't in the "power and ambit" of the deputy speaker to reject the no-confidence motion.
"It was a constitutional irregularity coupled with 'mala fide'," he said, a legal term meaning "bad faith".
The opposition had expected to take power yesterday after mustering enough votes to oust Mr Khan, but the deputy speaker - a member of the cricketer-turned-politician's party - refused to allow the motion to proceed because of alleged "foreign interference".
An alliance of usually feuding dynastic parties had plotted for weeks to unravel the tenuous coalition that made Mr Khan premier in 2018, but he claimed they went too far by colluding with the United States for "regime change".
Mr Khan insists he has evidence - which he has declined to disclose publicly - of US involvement, although local media have reported it was merely a briefing letter from Pakistan's ambassador following a meeting with a senior US official.
Western powers want him removed because he won't stand with them on global issues against Russia and China, Mr Khan said.
The US has denied involvement.
On paper, and pending any court decision, Mr Khan will remain in charge until an interim government is formed to oversee elections.
A notice from President Arif Alvi to Mr Khan and opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif said they should agree on a new interim prime minister, but Mr Sharif declined to cooperate.
"How can we respond to a letter written by a person who has abrogated the constitution?" he told a press conference.
Fawad Chaudhry, information minister in the outgoing cabinet, tweeted that Mr Khan had proposed former chief justice Gulzar Ahmad for the role.