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'Can't Blackmail, Ready to Sit in Oppn': Pak Minister's Poll Loss Brews Trouble for Imran Khan as He Seeks Confidence Vote

File photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. (Reuters)

File photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. (Reuters)

Imran Khan faced a surprise loss in Pakistan's Senate after finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh lost a tightly fought battle for a seat in the indirectly elected house against the opposition-backed former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Hitting out at opponents over floor test threats, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that he will seek a confidence vote in parliament’s lower house on Saturday, and is ready to sit in opposition if fail to get the vote of confidence.

“They thought they would dangle the sword of a vote of no-confidence to blackmail me. I am going to the parliament in an open ballot to seek a vote of confidence. I ask my nation, if you accept the corrupt as part of society, and validate their corruption, what example are you setting for your children and future generations? Do you want to uplift the nation or do you want to side with the corrupt?”

Imran Khan’s ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and its political allies were bidding to wrest control of Pakistan’s Senate from opposition parties in indirect elections to 37 seats in the 104-member upper house of parliament.

Local media reports suggest that the PTI and its allies gained ground in the Senate, possibly enough to gain a majority. However, an election official announced that Imran Khan’s finance minister, Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, had not succeeded in winning the seat he was contesting.

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The loss represents a significant blow to Imran Khan and the government, because the electoral college in Sheikh’s case was the lower house of parliament, which chooses the prime minister of the country and in 2018 handed a majority to Khan.

Sheikh is also leading crucial talks with international lender the IMF aimed at stabilising the economy. He can continue as finance minister, however, meaning the political damage is largely symbolic at this stage.

first published:March 04, 2021, 21:06 IST