Pakistani PM wins vote of confidence amid opposition protest, boycott

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was able to secure 178 votes.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was able to secure 178 votes.PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD (AFP, REUTERS) - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan won a vote of confidence from Parliament on Saturday (March 6) in a session marked by an opposition boycott of the vote and clashes between government supporters and opposition leaders outside the Parliament building.

Mr Khan was able to secure 178 votes, against the 172 required to win confidence, the Speaker of the House announced.

Mr Khan, who became prime minister following the 2018 general election, volunteered to seek Parliament’s confidence after the government's finance minister lost a high-profile Senate seat election earlier in the week.

Speaking following the confidence vote, the prime minister accused the opposition parties of “plundering national wealth” during their times in office.

“This was a decade of darkness used by the two parties to ruin national institutions,” he added.

Opposition parties boycotted the session, saying the Senate seat defeat was enough to show that Mr Khan no longer enjoyed the confidence of the House, and the vote of confidence was unnecessary. 

Addressing party workers outside the parliament, senior opposition leader and former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi denounced the vote as “illegal and unconstitutional”.

“People are being deceived by this government,” he said.

Opposition leaders were protesting and speaking to media outside Parliament when a crowd of government supporters surrounded and attacked them, local media footage showed. 

The footage showed an attack on Mr Abbasi, a female opposition leader and an opposition senator.

Khan – who came to power in 2018 after a fiery campaign vowing to clean up corruption – accused the opposition of horse-trading and buying some of his party’s parliamentarians in a bid to ward off graft investigations.

Since taking office, Khan has struggled to stabilise an economy hit by soaring inflation, a depreciating rupee and ballooning deficits.

He has blamed the opposition’s mismanagement in power for the country’s mounting fiscal woes.