Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday won a trust vote in the National Assembly, ending the political uncertainty in the country and strengthening his government’s legitimacy after an embarrassing defeat of the finance minister in the hotly-contested Senate elections.
Prime Minister Khan secured 178 votes in the 342-member lower house of Parliament during a special session convened on the directives of President Arif Alvi. He required 172 votes for a simple majority.
The floor test took place without the Opposition as the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) an alliance of 11 parties boycotted the voting, making it easier for Khan to secure the required numbers.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi tabled a single-point resolution in the House.
“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 resolution said.
Speaker Asad Qaiser announced the result, saying Prime Minister Khan had been elected to the post with 176 votes more than two years back. “Today, he has secured 178 votes,” he said.
“A total of 178 members recorded their vote in favour of resolution and the resolution has been passed. Consequently, Imran Khan has obtained the vote of confidence and commands the majority of the members of the assembly as the Prime minister,” the Speaker said.
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 was defeated in the closely-fought Senate election by former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday. The Opposition demanded the Prime Minister’s resignation after the debacle.
The ruling coalition had 181 members but after the resignation of one of its lawmakers, Faisal Vowda, its strength was reduced to 180. The Opposition coalition has 160 members in the House. One seat was vacant.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had 157 members in the NA but following the resignation of Vowda, it now has 156 members in the National Assembly. The ruling party has said that Vowda can vote during the trust motion as his resignation has not been accepted yet. However, 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.
Unsavory 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 who were holding up banners and chanting slogans in favour of Khan. Security forces managed to separate the political workers of the two sides.
Before the start of the session, 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 would 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 the Parliament after his reinstatement was granted by the Supreme Court in 1993.
On Friday, Prime Minister Khan chaired a meeting of parliamentary parties at the Prime Minister House (PMH) in which all Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) of the ruling alliance were asked to vote for the prime minister otherwise they can be disqualified.
According to a Cabinet member, 175 lawmakers of the ruling coalition attended the parliamentary party meeting at the PMH.
Khan also held separate meetings with leaders of the ruling coalition partners. All allied parties — the MQM, the PML-Q and the GDA pledged their support to him.