Despite significant gains in the Senate elections, the results are widely being seen as a disappointment for the PTI. Even the PTI chief, Prime Minister Imran Khan, seems to agree to this assessment. The 'hit' taken by the party was hard enough that Imran has now decided to call for a vote of confidence in his own government. All in all, this is a good move. It is clear that some members of the ruling coalition voted against their candidate in the election for Islamabad's male senator. A confidence vote would clarify whether they were voting for Gillani and against the PTI candidate, or for the opposition and against PTI itself.
A combination of the two scenarios is also possible — Gillani remains well-respected and well-liked among political circles while Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, despite a long career in government, remains a political outsider. The fact that he is also the face of the PTI government's economic policies does not help. Reports also suggest that Sheikh's nomination did not even go down well with the PTI rank and file. In this scenario, the problem was not with the PTI but with the candidate. On the other hand, if the vote implies dissatisfaction with the PTI government, we may have a much bigger problem.
Interestingly, in both scenarios, Imran will easily win the confidence vote — either his government still has 'honest' majority support, or the 'corrupt' people who switched allegiances will duplicitously back the government to keep their own seats and avoid a snap election. Winning the vote will also help Imran put any speculation about the government's short-term future to rest.
Meanwhile, one positive that normally comes from election losses is introspection — party leaders look inside to determine what went wrong. This, unfortunately, is not the prime minister's strong suit. Instead, he rolled out his 'greatest hits', accusing the ECP of being biased and the opposition of bribery, without considering that, if this is true, at least some of the people taking bribes were handpicked by Imran himself. A few months back, Imran said the time for blaming others for the party's failures is over. It appears he did not get his own memo.
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