PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Sunday said a probe must take place into the “controversy” surrounding the vote of confidence held in the National Assembly a day earlier, which Opposition members boycotted, but have claimed that there “weren’t enough people present” for the 178 votes obtained.
Speaking to the media following a meeting with Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz, Bilawal claimed: “Imran Khan was neither voluntarily voted as the prime minister by the Members of the Assembly, nor was he voluntarily voted for in this vote of confidence.” He termed the move to seek a trust vote “a joke”.
“He ran a race alone and declared himself the winner,” the PPP chairman said, adding: “But even this was rigged.” “This allegation raised by a member of the opposition present in the Assembly, that the number of votes announced do not match the number of people in attendance, must be investigated,” said Bilawal.
Notably, hours after Prime Minister Imran Khan secured the vote of confidence from members of National Assembly, Opposition MNA from North Waziristan Mohsin Dawar claimed that the required number of lawmakers were not present in the lower house at the time of voting.
— Saud Dawar (@sj_dawar) March 6, 2021
The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader said he will challenge the figure of 178 – the number of votes Premier Imran officially secured in Saturday’s session – demanding an investigation into the matter.
“This should be investigated through video footages to ascertain as to how many MNAs were genuinely present in the house and whose vote was counted as a formality,” said Dawar, who was the only opposition lawmaker present in the assembly.
Fafen rejects the claim
The Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) in its factsheet said that the premier received 178 votes in his favour during the session. “164 (48%) lawmakers were present at the outset and 178 (52%) at adjournment of the sitting,” it said.
Fafen said that parliamentary leaders from BAP, GDA, AML-P, PML-Q, MQM-P and JWP as well as five minority lawmakers also attended the session.
Reporters present inside the parliament counted a total of 181 members, this included three unelected members which were Babar Awan, Hafeez Sheikh and Shahzad Akbar – Minus these 3, the number comes to 178 – What MNA Dawar is saying is a political statement/stunt and NOTHING more https://t.co/oMkn9spmAQ
— Anas Mallick (@AnasMallick) March 6, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan has secured the vote of confidence. Interestingly, he was elected in 2018 with 176 votes, he has won the vote of confidence with 178 votes in 2021.
President Dr Arif Alvi had summoned the National Assembly to meet today at 12:15pm for this purpose. Imran Khan is the second Prime Minister in the history of akistan who is going to the National Assembly for a ‘voluntary’ vote of confidence.
Prior to PM Khan, Nawaz Sharif had sought a voluntary vote of confidence from the Parliament after his reinstatement was granted by the Supreme Court in 1993.
The Opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), boycotted the NA session.
After the events that transpired on March 3, when the government candidate Abdul Hafeez Sheikh lost to the opposition nominee Yousuf Raza Gillani in the Senate race for the Islamabad general seat, the prime minister announced on his own that he will seek a vote of confidence from the parliament — a bold move that has sent shock waves across the nation.
It is important to note that the Senate Elections were quite disturbing for the PTI. According to the returning officer, who announced the results after counting ended in the National Assembly, six of the total 340 ballots cast in the National Assembly were rejected. Gillani obtained 169 votes, whereas Shaikh got 164. One vote was not cast. The MPs were required to vote for 37 vacant seats of the Senate with 11 senators already elected unopposed from Punjab due to withdrawals from opposing candidates.
Polling was held for 12 seats each of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 11 of Sindh and two of the federal capital. MPAs from the three provincial assemblies cast their vote for the candidates fielded from Balochistan, KP and Sindh, while MNAs voted for the representatives from the federal capital.
“PTI has unanimously decided that Prime Minister Imran Khan will take a vote of confidence from the National Assembly,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said while addressing a press conference along with Federal Ministers Shafqat Mehmood, Asad Umar, Shireen Mazari, Fawad Chaudhry, Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Hammad Azhar and others.