Imran to seek confidence vote after shocking defeat


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After witnessing the shocking defeat of a ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate in this week's Senate polls, Prime Minister Imran Khan has sought a vote of confidence from Parliament on Saturday, which is being seen a symbolic move to ensure his standing as the country's premier.

Addressing the nation on Thursday, Khan announced the decision after some of his party members in the Senate voted for Yousaf Raza Gilani, the joint opposition's nominee for Islamabad, over the PTI's Abdul Hafeez Sheikh in a secret balloting.

Gilani'S victory came as a shock to Khan, who was quick to join heads to assess and absorb the blow.

Opposition parties have said that the PTI candidate's defeat has symbolically proven that the Prime Minister doesn't command confidence of the Upper House anymore.

In his address, the Prime Minister offered to go into opposition if PTI MPs thought he was incompetent.

"The opposition had a plan to use money in the Gilani-Sheikh contest. They spared no effort to break away our lawmakers and offered them money. Their plan was to defeat Hafeez Sheikh to prove that Imran Khan has lost majority in Parliament," he said.

"I will take a vote of confidence from the National Assembly on Saturday and am ready to sit on the opposition benches than giving amnesty to the opposition," he added.

Khan slammed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for failing to hold fair and transparent Senate elections, accusing them for allegedly protecting those who made money by holding Senate elections through secret ballot.

"ECP's failure to hold fair and transparent elections had damaged the country's morality and democracy," he said.

The premier also called on his party members, who voted against his candidate in the secret balloting, to come out in the open and vote against him if they felt he was incompetent during the parliament session, summoned by President Arif Alvi.

According to the tally, out of 341 votes, 341 were polled.

Gilani, also a former Prime Minister, bagged 169 votes, while the PTI's Sheikh bagged 164 ballots.

Seven votes were rejected.

This has rung alarm bells in the ruling party's ranks that members within its party of the elected have ruled against its candidate through secret balloting.

Experts have said that Khan would be able to see through the session as he still holds greater numbers of votes.

On the other hand, the military establishment was quick to reach out to the Prime Minister as Army chief and the spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief met him on Thursday evening.

Even though official word highlighted that matters related to the country's security were discussed in the meeting, analysts believe that the Senate setback and ways to tackle the situation were also part of their talks.

Pakistan's military establishment has backed Khan throughout his tenure and it seems that it still remains as his saviour in times of political crisis.

Opposition parties have raised eyebrows over the meeting, stating that it should not have taken place at a time when the PTI has lost to the opposition alliance in a major high-stakes seat of the Senate.

Maryam Nawaz, leader of Pakistan Muslim League � Nawaz (PML-N), has questioned the time of the meeting, stating that the establishment should not mingle in political affairs and "stop being the support of this incompetent and selected government".

Even though the Khan government has had its fair share of criticism over its performance, policy making and overall governance capabilities, analysts believe that it enjoys the support of the military establishment, who has been calling the shots and taking the Prime Minister out of difficult situations in the past.

And with the ongoing support to the ruling government, analysts do not see any drastic change in the political setup of the country.

Moreover, some analysts also believe that Khan would retain his government for the next tenure also.

The Opposition alliance however, are gearing up to insert more pressure on the government in the coming days as they plan on a long march from all parts of the country towards Islamabad, vowing to stage a sit-in till the time the incumbent government is ousted out of power.

Source: IANS

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