Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan secured a trust vote in the national assembly with the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) boycotting the voting on Saturday. This ends the political uncertainty in the country after the finance minister’s humiliating defeat in the Senate elections.
Requiring 172 votes for a simple majority in the 342-member lower house of the Pakistan Parliament, Khan secured 178 during a special session convened by President Arif Alvi. The absence of PDM, an alliance of 11 parties, absence helped Khan to sail across the required numbers.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi tabled a single-point resolution in the House that said, “That this House reposes confidence in the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mr Imran Khan, as required under clause (7) of Article 91 of the Constitution Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”
The result was announced by Speaker Asad Qaiser. He said Prime Minister Khan had been elected to the post with 176 votes more than two years back. Today, he has secured 178 votes, said Speaker Qaiser, adding that PM Khan has obtained the vote of confidence and commands the majority of the members of the assembly as the prime minister.
The 68-year-old cricketer-turned politician had decided to take a vote of confidence in the lower house of Parliament after his finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh lost in the closely-fought Senate election to former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday, following which the Opposition had demanded the prime minister’s resignation.
The ruling coalition had 181 members but after one of them, Faisal Vowda, had resigned, its strength was reduced to 180. The Opposition coalition has 160 members in the House and another seat is vacant.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had 157 members in the National Assembly but following the resignation of Vowda, it now has 156 members. It has said Vowda can vote during the trust motion as his resignation has not been accepted yet. But the Opposition insisted that he cannot vote as he has tendered his resignation.
The ruling party’s allies include seven from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), five each from the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) and the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), three from the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and one each from the AML and the JWP.
Unsavoury scenes were witnessed outside Parliament building due to rowdy behaviour of the ruling activists who tried to disrupt a press conference of opposition leaders belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Opposition PML-N leaders alleged that they had been manhandled by the ruling party members chanting slogans in favour of Khan.
Before the session began, a meeting of parliamentary parties was held where all lawmakers showed complete trust in the leadership of Prime Minister Khan. Barrister Ali Zadar of PTI said that Khan made a bold decision to seek a trust vote and it’d silence opposition which tried to put pressure on him.
Khan is the second Prime Minister in the history of Pakistan who went to the National Assembly for a voluntary vote of confidence, Geo TV said. Then prime minister Nawaz Sharif had sought a voluntary vote of confidence from Parliament after his reinstatement was granted by the Supreme Court in 1993.
(With inputs from agencies)