AMN / ISLAMABAD
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of PML-N was sworn in as prime minister of Pakistan in an oath-taking ceremony held at President House on Tuesday.
Abbasi was elected prime minister by lawmakers in the National Assembly earlier today, bagging 221 votes to become the successor to ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
PPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar secured 47 votes, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid received 33 votes, and four MNAs voted for Jamaat-i-Islami’s Sahibzada Tariqullah during the ballot.
Pakistan Parliement session to elect a new PM was called by President Mamnoon Hussain following a landmark Supreme Court ruling on the Panama Papers case on Friday, in which Nawaz Sharif was disqualified as PM after being deemed unfit to hold office.
Following the SC verdict, the PML-N had agreed upon Abbasi, the former petroleum minister, as its candidate for prime minister for the interim period till the ‘permanent’ replacement could be elected. Abbasi has to eventually give way to Shahbaz Sharif, who is likely to compete for the National Assembly seat lying vacant following the ouster of his elder brother and then stand for the chief executive’s office.
Following the announcement of Abbasi’s victory by NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, the PML-N benches in the Lower House had erupted with loud sloganeering in favour of Nawaz Sharif.
Soon after his victory was announced, Abbasi said: “I am grateful to you all, for following the democratic process — whether you voted for or against me.”
“I am grateful to the people of Pakistan, and I am grateful to the ‘people’s prime minister’, Nawaz Sharif,” he continued.
“I am also grateful to the opposition and Imran Khan for remembering us in their daily slandering,” he jibed.
Abbasi termed the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Panamagate case “unprecedented”, saying that although the party was blind-sided by the judgement, “we accepted it as it was”.
“We did not challenge the courts, there was no division in our ranks. The party stands as it was. No one wanted to joust for power — whoever the prime minister [Nawaz Sharif] named was supported unanimously,” he said, rebuffing rumours of cracks in the party’s ranks following the verdict.
“Everybody wants the PM’s chair. Tell me, who in this house doesn’t? It is to the PML-N’s credit that all party members rallied unanimously behind whoever was nominated by our leader.
“Within four days, the democratic process is back on track. There were no defections. There was no dissension in our ranks.
“Justice mandates that though a 1,000 guilty people may go free, not even one innocent person should be wrongfully convicted. I will not go into details of Friday’s decision — I only want to say that there will soon be another court — one held by the people. There will be no JIT there,” he said, referring to the upcoming general elections in 2018.
“I am sure that the real prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, will return to this seat.”
However, he said that, “I am the country’s prime minister — bet it for 45 days or 45 hours — and am not here just to keep the seat warm.”
“If I am here for 45 days, I will try to complete the amount of the work that requires 45 months,” he vowed.