Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will demand a vote of confidence in the National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, on Saturday after his finance minister lost the election for a seat in the upper house, the biggest test yet for his three-year government.

Khan will also address the nation on Thursday, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said on TV channel Geo, who also reported that the prime minister had met with powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and the head of the country’s spy agency, General Faiz Hameed earlier today. The developments followed a surprise loss for the prime minister in the country’s Senate after Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh lost a close battle for a seat in the indirectly elected chamber to former opposition-backed prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Senate seats are voted on by directly elected members of the powerful National Assembly and Khan is seeking the vote to show that he still holds a majority there despite Shaikh’s defeat, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at the meeting. of a press conference after the elections. The Prime Minister will have to dissolve the National Assembly and call new elections if he does not win the vote of confidence.

Shaikh had to win a seat in parliament to continue as finance minister after June 11. He is a key member in charge of economic policies and the government’s reform plan under the International Monetary Fund’s $ 6 billion loan program. Khan could help the minister win another seat or re-appoint him as an economic adviser, where he would have less power.

Khan is expected to be able to secure a majority of the votes of lawmakers in the 342-member lower house in the vote, according to Mohammed Sohail, managing director of Karachi-based Topline Securities Ltd. and political analyst Mazhar Abbas.

Military support

Khan’s meeting with Army chief Bajwa is seen as significant amid allegations the military helped him take power after the controversial 2018 national elections. The prime minister has openly claimed responsibility for the military , who ruled the South Asian country for more than half of the years following independence in 1947, supports him. In Khan’s government, the military has already extended its control over foreign and security policies to economic strategy.

Gilani, who was supported by an alliance of 11 opposition parties, won with 169 votes against 164 won by Sheikh, according to a televised announcement by a parliament official. Seven votes were rejected. Khan had the support of 180 lawmakers in the National Assembly when he came to power. The opposition alliance asked Khan to step down after the defeat.

Pakistan’s benchmark KSE-100 fell 2.3 percent, the highest in more than three months, before recovering some losses.

Crucial vote

“This Senate defeat will cause some political instability, but the impact will be mitigated to some extent if the prime minister gets the vote of confidence,” Topline’s Sohail said.

A vote of confidence is done through open recording of votes, making it more difficult for Khan’s allies to vote against him, said Hasnain Malik, head of equity strategy at Tellimer Dubai Ltd. disclosed.

While the final tally of 100 Senate seats is not yet known, Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party is the largest party in the Senate with at least 26 seats, according to a Dawn newspaper article. But his ruling coalition is still likely to fail to secure the majority in the 100-member upper house needed to pass crucial legislation, Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, chairman of the Pakistan Institute for Legislative Development and Development, said on Wednesday television. transparency.

The Senate result gave a boost to the opposition alliance that plans to march on Islamabad on March 26 to overthrow Khan’s government, two years before he ends a five-year term. The alliance includes the Pakistan-Nawaz Muslim League led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistani People’s Party of former President Asif Ali Zardari.

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