Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a move by Prime Minister Imran Khan to dissolve the country's Parliament and thus avoid a no confidence vote was unconstitutional.
The court also ordered that Pakistan's Parliament be restored and reconvene on April 9 in order to proceed with the no-confidence vote.
Khan's political opposition has said it has the 172 votes needed in the 340-seat house to oust the prime minister.
Pakistani opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif said after the ruling that his political allies have nominated him as the next prime minister if Khan is voted out on Saturday. He is the brother of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Political crisis in Pakistan
The Supreme Court made its decision four days after Khan dissolved Pakistan's parliament, and called for early elections, triggering a political crisis.
However, the court ruled that the deputy speaker of parliament, Khan ally Qasim Suri, was not within his rights to dissolve parliament.
Last week, Khan lost his parliamentary majority, and was almost certain to be ousted after the opposition gained the necessary support for a no confidence vote.
However, deputy speaker Suri threw out the motion for a vote, claiming it was unconstitutional and accused the opposition of colluding with the United States to remove Khan from power.
Khan's uncertain future
A former start cricket player, Khan, 69, came to power in 2018 promising sweeping reforms to eliminate corruption and cronyism.
However, opposition parties blame Khan for economic mismanagement and a crackdown on political opponents and civil society activists.
Since Khan took over, inflation and unemployment have increased sharply in Pakistan.
Khan's detractors say the prime minister is deflecting his policy failures by claiming Western powers want him removed because he will not stand with them against Russia and China. Washington has denied any interference.
Khan is currently facing the toughest political challenge of his three-and-a-half year tenure as prime minister, with many lawmakers from his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and key coalition allies supporting a no-confidence vote.
Pakistan has been beset by one political crisis after another for much of its 75-year existence, and no Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full term.
Khan said on Twitter after the ruling that he has and always "will continue to fight" for Pakistan until "the last ball."
wmr/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)