SRINAGAR: Days after the ambitious ceasefire with India, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan won a voluntary confidence motion in the Pakistan parliament. It indicates a strong possibility of the continuation of the renewed bilateralism between India and Pakistan.
The voluntary confidence motion moved by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was the outcome of Khan’s finance minister, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, failing to get re-elected as Yousuf Raza Gillani, the joint opposition candidate defeated him early this week. He lost the senate re-election by five votes indicating that Khan’s PTI lacks the support of his own party in the parliament. Apparently pre-empting the possibility of a no-confidence vote, Khan voluntarily moved the motion in a special session that he eventually won.
Pakistan parliament has 342 berths (one seat was not counted because that is undergoing re-election). PTI and its allies make up 180 members and the opposition (jointly called Pakistan Democratic Movement) has 160 members. Khan required 171 votes to stay in power and he is understood to have polled 178 votes.
This is rare in Pakistan’s fragile democratic history that an incumbent Prime Minister had voluntarily sought a vote of confidence. The only other instance was that of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif who took a confidence vote on May 27, 1993, to see if he still has the support of parliamentarians after the Supreme Court overturned his dismissal by the then former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Though he retained power as 123 of 200 members polled in his favour but he had lost many supporters in the parliament because he had the support of 153 members when he took over in 1990.
In case of Khan, however, reports said he polled 178 votes, barely two less than what he had polled when he took over. The opposition boycotted the special session of the assembly.
Khan’s retention as the Prime Minister augers well for the India Pakistan relations that witnessed a breakthrough recently when the two sides agreed to hold fire on the border and the Line of Control. The surprise move was widely hailed across the world. It is widely being believed that the ceasefire was the outcome of the engagement of the two armies.
Pertinent to mention here that the rare confidence vote may eventually make Khan as Pakistan’s only Prime Minister who will complete his term in office. Since Pakistan’s founding in 1947, 18 men and women were appointed or elected as prime ministers. Not one of them has served the entirety of their term.