Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will seek a vote of confidence in parliament after the government’s finance minister lost his bid for a Senate seat in an election, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced on Wednesday. In indirect elections for 37 seats in Pakistan’s 104-member upper house of parliament, Imran Khan’s ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and its political allies were bidding to wrest control of the Senate from opposition parties.

While official results are still pending, local media reports indicate that the PTI and its allies gained ground in the Senate, likely enough to win a majority. However, Khan’s finance minister, Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, did not secure the seat he was running for. Following the announcement of the result, senior PTI official and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a press conference in the capital Islamabad, accusing the opposition of using corruption to sway lawmakers’ votes.

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Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “Imran Khan and his party has reached a consensus decision that Imran Khan will take a vote of confidence from the parliament”. The step, according to Information Minister Shibli Faraz, was intended to show Khan’s political rivals that he still had the confidence of parliament and it was a “sign of a brave man.” 

The defeat is a big setback for Khan and the government since the electoral college in Sheikh’s case was the lower house of parliament, which selects the country’s prime minister and gave a majority in 2018 to Imran Khan. If Khan and his allies win a majority in the Senate after the election, it could aid him in passing crucial legislation that has stalled in the chamber and hindered progress in IMF talks.

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