Pakistani PM Imran Khan survives vote of confidence after defeat on Senate seat

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan won a vote of confidence that he sought from the lower house of parliament, following a surprise electoral defeat on a Senate seat earlier this week.

Khan is the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which leads a ruling coalition, and was elected to power in a general election in 2018.

The prime minister received 178 votes reposing confidence in his leadership in the 342-member National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, Speaker Asad Qaiser said following Saturday’s vote.

“Consequently, Mr Imran Khan has obtained the vote of confidence from the National Assembly and commands the confidence of the majority of the members of the National Assembly as the prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” he said.

On Friday, the opposition’s 10-party Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) announced that it would boycott the vote, and the opposition benches were almost entirely deserted throughout the proceedings on Saturday.

Mohsin Dawar, an independent candidate and leader in the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) rights group, was the sole member of the opposition present in the house during the vote.

The vote will help shore up Khan’s hold on power, following the defeat of his finance minister, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, to the opposition’s Yusuf Raza Gilani in a Senate race on Wednesday.

Following the Senate election, an angry Khan accused the opposition of having engaged in corrupt practices in order to pressure him to grant them amnesty in his government’s anti-corruption drive.

In an address Khan alleged the opposition had “bought” the votes of members of his ruling party or his allies in order to win Gilani’s Senate seat.

“The reason for [the secret ballot] was that they planned the election of Hafeez Shaikh and Yusuf Raza Gilani, they wanted to spend their money on it, use all of their efforts to try and buy our parliamentarians [to win],” he said.

“And this was to show that somehow Imran Khan has lost his majority [in parliament]. The next step was to bring a vote of no-confidence … the real reason was to use a vote of confidence as a sword over my head to blackmail me into giving them [amnesty].”