Imran Khan seeks vote of confidence in Pakistan Parliament after finance minister loses Senate polls


Pakistan minister Shafqat Mahmood said that the vote of confidence will be held in an ‘open setting’, contrary to the vote for the Senate seat which was held through a secret ballot

File image of Imran Khan. Twitter@PTIofficial

Islamabad: Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan on Wednesday decided to seek a vote of confidence in the Parliament after his finance minister was defeated in the hotly contested Senate elections.

Khan’s close aide and Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh lost to former premier Yusuf Raza Gilani in the Senate election on Wednesday.

Khan, also the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), had personally campaigned for his Cabinet colleague.

Gilani, a Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) veteran, was a consensus candidate of the Opposition alliance – Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).

Several Opposition leaders heavily criticised Khan after Gilani’s win, calling for him to resign as the prime minister.

Hours after the results were declared, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the premier has decided to seek a vote of confidence.

The decision was taken in the meeting of the party after consultations, said Qureshi, Vice Chairman of the ruling party.

Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said that a vote of confidence would be held in an open setting contrary to the vote for senate seat which was held through a secret ballot.

Earlier, addressing the media along with Gilani after the victory, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asked Khan to step down as the defeat of his candidate showed that he has lost confidence in the National Assembly.

“Imran Khan should resign, this is not only the Opposition’s demand but of the government’s own members,” Bilawal said, adding that “a new era was starting in Pakistan’s democratic journey”.

He thanked the PDM leadership and said that Gilani’s win was a win for all democratic forces in Pakistan. “This puppet government has lost from its own parliament and the people of Pakistan have won.”

Gilani said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif called him from London, where he lives, and “congratulated him on the glorious victory”.

PML-N Vice-president Maryam Nawaz tweeted that Khan has no right to rule the country as “their (PTI) own people, despite pressure on them, refused to vote for Imran Khan (candidate).”

PML-N senior leader Ahsan Iqbal also said that Prime Minister Khan should resign tonight. “Imran and his ministers can’t even cast their votes properly; how can they run a country?”

He was referring to the media reports that Khan’s own vote and that of his two ministers were among the seven rejected votes, which cost them the coveted seat, as Shaikh was defeated by a meagre five vote margin.

The ruling party leaders, however, rejected calls for resignation of Khan. “The Opposition leaders should be ashamed. With what face and character can they say that Imran Khan should resign or say to bring no confidence against him, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said.

Both the government and opposition had been accusing each other of using money to influence and swing the loyalty of lawmakers.

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