PM Khan Gets a Vote of Confidence. It Was a Week of 4-Wheel Drive.

In a first, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan this week threw the gauntlet at the opposition by volunteering to seek a vote of confidence from the National Assembly (Lower House) –even though legally he did not had to do so. And he did so on Saturday, won with a higher number of votes than when Khan got elected as PM in August 2018. Khan’s latest daring act came as the combined opposition boycotted the cricketer-turned-politician’s move considered a step back amid their calls to table a no confidence move against him sooner than later.

The Senate elections held earlier this week in which Khan’s party PTI enjoy simple majority now as well, was painted by the opposition’s rank and some not-so-friendly media as a “defeat” referendum against the government –Khan’s one of the dozens of candidates (Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh) lost to combined opposition’s candidate, former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who belongs to PPP. Rest generally won.

But Shaikh’s win or lose was projected by critics as the tipping point of government’s popularity in the Parliament or outside. The perception that the government’s one of key candidates lost mattered more to critics than the win of others –they called the defeat a “public rejection” of the government — an unusual broad stroke narrative, followed by boycott of the confidence vote and announcement by the combined opposition to row the boat.

Some observers felt that Khan’s call for confidence vote was a gambit –it could further raise the political temperature and polarize the society –if the combined opposition ups the ante.

Political weather pundits’ extended forecast is a mix of sunshine and clouds with occasional chances of rains and winds…and no “British humor” from any sides…chances of unpredictability notwithstanding. For Project Democracy “all are on board“.

Observers say:

Contrary to what the “experts” say, there did appear to be a need for vote of confidence —good old-fashioned muscle flexing. You have to show them you’re in charge. By the way, the opposition needs to grow up.


He (Imran Khan) took a bold step, no doubt, and won. But the issue could crop up again during the election of Senate Chairman, if that actually takes despite the petitions before the ECP. Would IK be able to keep his MNAs on tight leash then, or would it be the same fiasco as was witnessed on March 3 Senate election? That would be another test of his strength. If IK fails, opposition would be back with drums. Temperature is rising in Pakistan. To me it seems, two charged camps are emerging, as it was during the 1977 PNA movement. The shrewd politician in Maulana Fazl has helped raise the temperature and it is working for the opposition. Being in power, it is IK’s responsibility to lower the temperature. He needs to rise to the occasion. And although it may seem unfortunate, but some sort of deal needs to be stricken with the likes of Zardari, Sharifs, Maulana, etc. Regretfully this is what politics is all about – wheeling and dealing. There are no blacks and whites, only shades of grey. And the tide is with the opposition for the time being. IK has a real task at hand.

RASHID HUSAIN SYED, Toronto-based energy & political analyst

PM’s seeking vote of confidence in the back drop of horse-trading revealed in the Upper House election was an intelligent strategy to subdue the opposition and gain political leverage. Stage is being set to move toward Presidential set up. The playback singers should break stalemate in system improvement being abused due to 18th Amendment. There is no weightage of honesty and integrity in the speeches of the leaders of opposition as they used more tactics to retain them in the government in recent past. PMLN Chief and his cronies are absconders which make the moral and political terrain weaker for the combined Opposition. The Higher Judiciary must play proactive role in national interest.

M A CHISHTY, Karachi-based observer

Today he must have realized the importance of MQM’s seven votes without which he would have had 171 votes (Khan got 178 votes) instead. It’s good that he secured. Every govt. should be allowed to complete 5 years tenure.

HESHAM SYED, Toronto-based professional

My assessment is that the situation may remain unstable and there could be more political hiccups along the way in the next six months. Overall, the uncertainty that prevails is very very damaging in terms of our economy, in terms of international community’s confidence on Pakistan. In my opinion, two major factors are: One, is the style of leadership of Imran Khan who is stubborn and doesn’t even want to listen to somebody. So this style of his politics will continue and will create more polarization in the society.

The second factor is we need sanity. So, the second is about if you drive people, specially the opposition, the latter will react and part of which you see is dissatisfied and the other part of it is just political. So the overall system and moment is delicately balanced. So, small hiccups here and there can pack the system up. So the next sixth months I think are important. Lastly, there is a lot of theatrics, there is no delivery. If there is no delivery then the government will continue to face trouble over the next six months.

Within the PDM, PMLN wants elections and elections as soon as possible. While PPP does not want elections. Their game plan according to my assessment is that they will target Punjab next because the only way PPP comes to assume power in the center is by winning Sindh, NWFP and KPK seats and then between themselves and Q leagues or something similar have 30 to 40 seats (in Punjab) to make a coalition type of government. They also want Bilawal to turn 35 by 2023 as the elections take place then.

So that’s why they (PPP) are not very keen on destabilizing the federal government at the moment. Because, they feel that in the general elections in 2023 they will wipe out PTI from all the provinces. In Sindh
they are already in power for more than a decade.

If there are fresh elections earlier, the PM will be forced to choose or wish to choose his narrative. It would be that, “since I was sort of a coalition government, I couldn’t implement my agenda. So give me two third (2/3) majority to go after them and that could find traction within the society.


Irshad Salim, Islamabad