Fri, 16 Apr 2021

Pakistan Prime Minister Wins Parliament's Vote of Confidence

Voice of America
06 Mar 2021, 23:05 GMT+10

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, secured a vote of confidence from the National Assembly, the lower house of the country's bicameral parliament, in a special session marked by an opposition boycott.

Khan himself volunteered to seek the parliamentary trust after his finance minister unexpectedly lost to an opposition candidate in Wednesday's crucial vote for the Senate, the upper house of parliament.

The house speaker, Asad Qaisar, while announcing results Saturday, said the prime minister secured 178 votes, more than the 172 required to establish confidence in the 342-member body.

"Consequently, Mr. Imran Khan has obtained the vote of confidence from the National Assembly and commands the confidence of the majority of the members," the speaker said.

Khan later addressed lawmakers and thanked them for reposing their confidence in him. In the nationally televised speech, he again alleged that some of his ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party legislators had been bribed by the opposition in Wednesday's Senate secret ballot vote.

The prime minister vowed to bring electoral reforms in the shape of "electronic machines" to counter corrupt practices and to ensure transparency in future elections.

Despite his candidate's embarrassing defeat in the Senate, Khan's PTI emerged as the single largest party in the 100-member upper house.

Pakistan's National Assembly and four provincial legislatures collectively constitute the electoral college for Senate elections, which are held every three years among half the chamber's seats.

Opposition groups boycotted Saturday's vote, insisting it was not required because the Senate seat defeat was enough to show Khan no longer had parliamentary confidence.

The PTI government rejected the assertions as "political sloganeering" and chastised the opposition for boycotting the special session "only to avoid embarrassment" in the face of Khan's "thumping victory."

Government supporters briefly clashed with opposition leaders outside the parliament while they were speaking to media to denounce the special National Assembly session as illegal.

Khan's PTI won the 2018 general elections and he formed a coalition government with the help of smaller allied parties with a goal of holding his predecessors accountable for allegedly stashing billions of dollars in taxpayer money in foreign accounts, deepening Pakistan's economic troubles.

Opposition parties reject the allegations and in turn blame Khan for failing to address both economic and foreign policy challenges facing Pakistan.

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