Pakistan PM survives confidence vote boycotted by opposition

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan survived a vote of confidence by the country’s parliament on Saturday, days after his party lost a key Senate seat to an opposition candidate.

Ruling party and opposition activists clashed briefly outside the parliament ahead of the vote, with local TV channels showing a shoe being thrown at former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal.

Khan secured 178 votes in the 340-seat National Assembly through an open ballot, boycotted by the main opposition parties, the Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan Peoples Party.

The vote followed the contentious results of Wednesday’s election to Pakistan’s Senate, whose members are chosen by provincial parliaments and lawmakers from the lower house.

In a sign of growing ruptures within his ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Khan’s finance minister lost his seat to an opposition candidate, suggesting some members of the party had switched their loyalty.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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