Pakistan Opposition parties to boycott Imran Khan’s vote of confidence tomorrow, claim moral victory
Pakistan Democratic Movement chief Maulana Fazlur Rehn said that their candidate's triumph in the Senate election was itself a no-confidence motion against Khan
In a relief for Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the eve of a vote of confidence on his government, the Opposition alliance on Friday announced that they will boycott the floor test as their candidate's triumph in the Senate election was itself a moral victory against the premier.
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said no Opposition member will attend the National Assembly session scheduled for Saturday, in which Prime Minister Khan will seek a vote of confidence.
The announcement from the chief of the PDM, a 10-party Opposition alliance, comes after Khan addressed the nation on Thursday, explaining why he was seeking a vote of confidence in the wake of the Senate elections in which the Opposition managed to stage an upset.
PDM candidate and former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani defeated ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Wednesday, in a major blow to Khan, who had personally campaigned for his Cabinet colleague.
Rehman said Gilani's "victory was itself a no-confidence motion against Khan".
"Vote of no-confidence has already been given in the shape of Senate elections... in the victory of Yusuf Raza Gilani, he told reporters.
He claimed that President Arif Alvi in his notification to summon Saturday's session had essentially stated that Prime Minister Khan had "lost the trust of the majority" and he, therefore, needed to seek a vote of confidence.
"So when the president talks about losing trust to call the session of the National Assembly, then this further strengthens the stance of the Opposition," he said.
Ahead the floor test, Prime Minister Khan met his allies on Friday to firm up a strategy in Parliament, where his candidate, Shaikh, was defeated by a margin of 5 votes just two days ago.
Khan met the lawmakers from Mutahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and discussed the vote of confidence.
Sources in the PTI said that GDA had some issues as its candidate for senate seat was defeated in Sindh Assembly and the prime minister had assured them to address the concerns. Similarly, he also tried to assure the MQM-P about concerns regarding development-related issues of Karachi.
The premier also held a meeting with his parliamentary party leaders and discussed various issues, said Minister for Science Fawad Chaudhry.
"We are confident that the Prime Minister will easily get vote of confidence as the entire party is behind him, he said.
He said Khan needs support of 171 lawmakers in the National Assembly, currently having 341 members out of total 342, while our woman candidate got 174 votes in the same House .
He was referring to Fozia Arsahd who won while Shaikh lost in the same elections.
Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said that the vote of confidence will be held in an open setting, which means that it will be hard for any PTI lawmakers to openly defy the Prime Minister.
However, Opposition leaders in earlier statements called it a victory that Khan was forced to seek a vote of confidence which they think was a sign of weakness and would finally lead to his ouster.
The Prime Minister has lost the moral ground to remain in power and winning the vote of confidence is immaterial, said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former premier and leader of PML-N.
Khan addressing the nation on Thursday said that he would sit on Opposition benches if the house refused to pose trust in his leadership.
However, it is generally believed that he will come out unscathed from the current political bout but his problems will not end as the Pakistan Democratic Movement already announced to march on Islamabad March 26 to topple his government.
Khan's PTI has 157 lawmakers. The Opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has 83 member and the Pakistan Peoples Party has 55 lawmakers.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's election commission on Friday expressed shock and disappointment over Prime Minister Khan's allegations against it, asserting that the
Senate elections were held as per the Constitution and it has "never come under any sort of pressure and God willing, will not in future as well."
The strong comments were made by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in a statement following a crucial meeting of its members to review Khan's statements against it on Thursday.
The meeting was summoned by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.
Khan lashed out at the election commission which he said failed to stop corruption in Wednesday's closely-contested Senate elections.
"You (ECP) discredited democracy you damaged the morality of the nation by doing nothing to stop vote-buying," he alleged.
In its response, the ECP said, "this is the beauty of democracy and independent elections and the secret ballot which the entire nation witnessed, which was according to the Constitution."
Rejecting Khan's allegations, the commission said, "We cannot ignore the law and the Constitution to please anyone," said the ECP in its statement.
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