Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan suffered a major political setback on Wednesday, when his finance minister was defeated in a race for a seat in the country’s senate.
Khan must now appoint a replacement cabinet post by June 11 under Pakistani law. The defeat shocked finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, a respected economist and former world bank official who led the country’s negotiations with IMF for $ 6 billion The loan comes amid an escalating campaign by the main opposition parties to have the prime minister removed from office.
Elected officials vote to fill the vacant seats in the senate every three years. Following the results, the government announced it would “take a vote of confidence in parliament” to prove that the prime minister retained a majority of support.
Business leaders have warned that the Sheikh’s departure creates uncertainty over the future of Pakistan’s fiscal policy as it battles the impact of the pandemic on the economy.
“Right now, it is important to give a message of confidence to various stakeholders inside and outside Pakistan about the state of our economy. Now, people will be left asking questions, ”the president of the private Pakistani bank told the Financial Times.
An 11-party opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), has accused Khan of using a powerful military to tip a 2018 election outcome in his favor – which leaders from the prime minister’s party deny – and for failing to revive the dying. the economy.
The PDM has announced a March 26 deadline for Khan to step down or face widespread opposition protests.
Although some opposition leaders said they planned to follow up Wednesday’s defeat with a no-confidence vote against Khan, analysts said it was too early to predict his fall towards the end of his five-year term in 2023.
“This is a huge disappointment for Imran Khan and his PTI (Pakistan Justice Party),” said Huma Baqai, a political commentator at Karachi University. “The government from now on will face further pressure as the opposition continues to ramp up its campaign.”
The vote count revealed a pause in the PTI Khan party, with as many as 16 party members voting against the finance minister, former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, or tampering with their ballots.
The defeat of the Shaykh “will not automatically lead to the downfall of the prime minister. Several PTI members have clearly changed sides [for this vote]. But it will be much more difficult for them to agree to the dismissal of the prime minister, “an opposition leader told the FT.
Faisal Javed, a PTI leader, claims some representatives have been bribed by the opposition. “There has been massive corruption. There is a horse trade. People have been sold, “he told the local ARY news channel on Wednesday. Opposition leaders denied this.
The electoral body for the senate is made up of legislators in Pakistan’s four provinces as well as the lower house of parliament in Islamabad which is known as the national assembly.
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