PM Imran Khan to seek vote of confidence in Parliament as finance minister loses high-profile seat in Senate election.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he will seek a vote of confidence from parliament on Saturday after the finance minister lost his bid for a Senate seat.
"I'm going to seek a confidence motion a day after tomorrow," Khan said in an address to the nation on Thursday.
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.
Khan's ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and its political allies were bidding on Wednesday to wrest control of Pakistan's Senate from opposition parties in indirect elections to 37 seats in the 104-member upper house of Parliament.
Complete results have yet to come in, but 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 Khan's finance minister, Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, had not succeeded in winning the seat he was contesting.
President Islamic Republic of 🇵🇰 has summoned the National Assembly to meet on Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 12:15 p.m. for purpose of requiring the Prime Minister to obtain vote of confidence from National Assembly under Article 91(7) of Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan— National Assembly of Pakistan🇵🇰 (@NAofPakistan) March 4, 2021
A big loss
The loss represents a significant blow to 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.
"Imran Khan and his party has reached a consensus decision that Imran Khan will take a vote of confidence from the Parliament," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a news conference.
Information Minister Shibli Faraz told Geo News that the move was to show Khan's political opponents that he still had the confidence of Parliament and it was the "sign of a brave man."
Opposition seeks fresh election
The Senate contest was designed as a gauge of confidence in Khan's administration, Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, head of the independent research organisation PILDAT, told Reuters news agency.
Pakistani financial advisory house Topline Securities said in an advisory note immediately after the result of Sheikh's seat was announced that the loss was likely to increase pressure on the ruling party.
Opposition parties, which have united behind a mass protest campaign aimed at ousting Khan, called for a dissolution of the government and fresh elections.
If Khan and his allies do gain a majority in the Senate when final results are in, it could help him pass key legislation that has stalled in the chamber and slowed progress in talks with the IMF.