Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan would seek a vote of confidence and not follow through with his earlier statement about resignation in case of an election defeat, it was decided during a meeting of the PM, Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI chief Faiz Hameed.
Almost 22 votes from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were expected to go to Pakistan People’s Party, but only a few did. Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) did not vote against the PTI in those numbers due to expected investigations by the ISI.
Bajwa and the ISI Chief assured Imran Khan that they were in support of the present government in Pakistan. The Army chief also asked Khan to not follow his earlier statement about resignation in case of an election defeat. Instead, it was decided that the PM would go for a national address and seek a vote of confidence.
The meeting was also a signal that the Army and the ISI both will support Imran Khan for now.
Khan said he will seek a vote of confidence from parliament on Saturday after the finance minister lost his bid for a Senate seat.
Khan and his government had been expected to win the indirect election on the seat, given their coalition’s numerical superiority in the lower house of parliament, the electoral college for the vote.
“I’m going to seek a confidence motion a day after tomorrow,” Khan said in a televised address to the nation on Thursday.
The Senate is the upper house of Pakistan’s bicameral parliament.
He said the vote of confidence would be an open ballot in which members of his party and his allies were welcome to vote against him if they no longer had confidence in him.
“This is your democratic right … just raise your hands that you don’t have confidence and I will go into the opposition (benches),” he said.
The Senate election a day earlier was a secret ballot and members of the ruling coalition are widely believed to have voted against his candidate, Finance Minister Abdul Hafiz Sheikh.
He alleged the opposition parties had gained those votes through unfair means. The opposition denies the charge.
Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), became the largest party in the Senate in Wednesday’s poll. But although it gained ground, interim results on Thursday showed his ruling coalition was still a few seats short of a clear majority.
If Khan fails to win the vote of confidence, Pakistan could face another phase of political turmoil. According to Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, science and technology minister, the vote is due on Saturday.
Senate elections were seen as a test for Khan, who came to power in the 2018 parliamentary elections. Though Khan improved his standing in the 100-member Senate, Sheikh’s defeat was a setback for his government.
Hussain, the science and technology minister, also said that senators are expected to vote in the coming days on a new chairman of the Senate. The incumbent, Sadiq Sanjrani, is to be the ruling party’s candidate again. Gilani is likely to contest the vote for the chairman. He served as prime minister from 2008 to 2012.
Gilani’s success in the Senate indicates that some of the ruling party’s lawmakers had rebelled and did not vote for Sheikh. Votes for the Senate are cast by members of the National Assembly, or the lower house of parliament, and four provincial assemblies.
(With agency inputs)