Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will face a confidence vote in the national parliament after a setback on a key seat in South Asian country’s senate election, the ruling-PTI officials said. On Wednesday, the elections for forty-eight seats in the 96-member upper chamber were held, with lawmakers casting their vote through the day in National Assembly and provincial assemblies.
Although the official results are expected on Thursday, the unofficial results from the election commission suggest that Khan’s government lost a key seat in the Senate, where the opposition’s candidate defeated his party, Hafeez Sheikh. Yousaf Raza Gillani, the former Pakistani Prime Minister defeated the incumbent finance minister by 169-164.
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These results came as a blow for the ruling-PTI as the party and its allies hold a majority in the lower house. Meanwhile, the local media reports suggest that some allies or members of Khan’s party defected when they voted through a secret ballot. Soon after, the unofficial results became public, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other cabinet members held a press conference and accusing that the opposition alliance of engaged in unlawful activities to sway legislators’ votes.
He said, “Imran Khan and his party have made a unanimous decision that [the prime minister] will seek a vote of confidence from this house.” Yet, the ruling party remained the biggest gainer in the election, increasing its number of seats from 14 to 26. However, political experts suggest that the opposition may narrowly control the upper chamber of parliament, with two main parties PPP and PML(N) to hold 20 and 18 seats respectively.
The members of Pakistan’s Senate are elected for a whopping six-year-term, with elections of the half held every three years. Member of the lower house and provincial assemblies elect the Senators. Last week, Khan’s party failed in its attempt to ensure transparency by requiring open voting for the Senate polls. however, the country’s apex court ruled that such a step would be unconstitutional. Previously in 2018, Prime Minister Khan dismissed 20 lawmakers from his party over charges of involvement in corrupt practices during the last Senate elections.
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