PM Imran set to take trust vote in show of strength after Senate upset


Lawmakers have started to arrive at the Parliament House ahead of a vote of confidence for Prime Minister Imran Khan during a special session of the National Assembly today.

The session is expected to begin at 12:15pm and has a single-point agenda, according to the National Assembly Secretariat. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will table a resolution in the House on which voting will be held.

The resolution says: “That this House reposes confidence in the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mr Imran Khan, as required under clause (7) of Article 91 of the Constitution Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

PM Imran had announced earlier this week that he would seek a vote of confidence from his party’s lawmakers, following an upset in the Senate election on March 3. While the ruling PTI made gains, it experienced a shocking upset on the Islamabad seat where PPP’s Yousuf Raza Gilani bagged 169 votes, defeating the government’s nominee, Hafeez Shaikh, who received 164 votes, meaning that several ruling alliance MNAs had voted for the Pakistan Democratic Movement candidate.

This is the first time a prime minister has undertaken such an exercise after the passage of the 18th Amendment.

Prior to this, the law required every prime minister to take a vote of confidence from the Assembly within 30 days of being elected — a vote that Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and other prime ministers of the past had to seek after their election.

Since 2010, however, the law does not require such a practice. In fact, according to clause 7 of Article 91 of the Constitution, the president “shall not exercise his powers under this clause unless he is satisfied that the prime minister does not command the confidence of the majority” in the Assembly.

Yesterday, during a meeting of parliamentary parties at the Prime Minister House, 175 out of 179 government lawmakers gave assurance to the prime minister that they will give him the vote of confidence. All MNAs of the ruling alliance were asked to vote for the prime minister otherwise they can be de-seated.

Those who could not attend the meeting were Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi, Amir Liaquat Hussain, Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, Basit Sultan and Monis Elahi.

A PTI leader said all those who were absent would attend the NA session today. He said Zaidi was stuck up in Lahore and Amir Liaquat who was in Karachi assured that he would be present in the house today.

After resignation of Faisal Vawda and re-elections on a seat NA-75 in Daska, the government has 179 seats in the NA and the PM has to get at least 172 votes to prove confidence of the 341-member House.

The 10-party alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) yesterday announced that the opposition will boycott the session. PDM chief Fazlur Rehman called it a futile exercise by the premier for face-saving after the lower house of parliament already rejected him as the premier in the recent Senate elections.

Rehman said that “this session will have no political importance” and the PTI government “will not be considered the representative government of this nation”.


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