Shahid Abbasi succeeds Sharif as Pakistan PM By Sajjad Hussain

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Aug 2017 09:11:48



Khaqan Abbasi, a diehard supporter of Nawaz Sharif, was on Tuesday elected Prime Minister by Pakistan’s National Assembly and put up a strong defence of the ousted leader saying that he may have been disqualified by the Supreme Court but remains the “people’s premier.

” Abbasi, 58, was elected after getting 221 votes in the House of 342, defeating his three rivals emphatically. Naveed Qamar of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) got 47 votes, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, an Awami Muslim League leader who was Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s candidate, got 33 votes, while Jamaate-Islami’s Sahibzada Tariqullah managed just four votes. Sharif ’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) nominated Abbasi as interim Prime Minister until Sharif ’s brother Shehbaz is elected as a National Assembly member.

“Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has been declared as elected as Prime Minister of Islamabad Republic of Pakistan,” National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq announced amid sloganeering. He then asked Abbasi to take the seat of the Prime Minister and address the House. Abbasi, while addressing Parliament after the voting, said that his election was a victory for democracy. He heavily criticised the Supreme Court judgement which disqualified Sharif. “Sharif has been sent home but he is still people’s premier,” he said.

“Justice demands that 1,000 guilty are set free than one innocent is convicted,” Abbasi said. He also hailed his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party for standing united after Sharif was disqualified. Abbasi also promised that there would be no power shortage in the country after December.

After the voting and counting process, many of the PML-N National Assembly members entered the House with posters of Sharif. The National Assembly Speaker objected to this and asked them to put away the placards and posters. Abbasi will be sworn-in later at a special ceremony at the President’s House, where President Mamnoon Hussain willadministertheoathtohim.

He is a true loyalist of Sharif and stood with him when his Government was toppled in 1999byMusharraf.Abbasiwas imprisonedafterthe coupand was kept in jail for two years. The Supreme Court on Fridaydisqualified67-year-old Prime Minister Sharif for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal, forcing him to resign. Abbasi will remain premier till Shehbaz is elected to the House to take over as Prime Minister and lead the Governmenttillnextyearwhen the general election will take place. Pakistan has seen such arrangements in the past too.

During former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf’s time, politician Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was appointed as an interim Prime Minister until Shaukat Aziz, who was nominated by Musharraf, got elected by the ruling Pakistan MuslimLeagueQuaid-e-Azam (PML-Q).

Earlier in the day, the Opposition parties meeting failed to result in agreement over a joint candidate. Hours before the scheduled National Assembly session, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) announced to withdraw its candidate Kishwar Zehra in favour of Abbasi. The MQM’s 24 MPsbackedAbbasi. Major political parties fielded their respective candidates for the premier’s post. The PML-N party holds 188 seats in the 342-member Parliament.