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Pakistani PM wins vote of confidence amidst opposition protest, boycott

FILE PHOTO: Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a joint news conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (not pictured) at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan won a vote of confidence from parliament on Saturday in a session marked by an opposition boycott of the vote and clashes between government supporters and opposition leaders outside the parliament building.

Khan was able to secure 178 votes, against the 172 required to win confidence, the speaker of the house announced.

Khan, who became prime minister following the 2018 general elections, volunteered to seek parliament’s confidence after the government’s finance minister lost a high-profile Senate seat election earlier in the week.

Opposition parties boycotted the session, saying the Senate seat defeat was enough to show that Khan no longer enjoyed the confidence of the house, and the vote of confidence was unnecessary.

“An illegal session is being called to cheat the Pakistani people,” former prime minister and opposition leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told media outside the parliament building.

Opposition leaders were protesting and speaking to media outside parliament when a crowd of government supporters surrounded and attacked them, local media footage showed.

The footage showed an attack on Abbasi, a female opposition leader and an opposition senator.

Reporting by Umar Farooq in Islamabad and Gibran Peshimam in Karachi; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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