Tuesday Aug 01 2017

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi sworn in as 18th prime minister


ISLAMABAD: Prime minister-elect Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday took oath as the eighteenth prime minister of the country at the President House Islamabad.

President Mamnoon Hussain administered oath to Abbasi, after he swept the election with a majority vote. He secured 221 of 339 votes.

Abbasi took oath of his office at a solemn ceremony, which had armed forces chiefs, governors, members of the parliament, and prominent political and social figures in presence.

The ruling PML-N head Nawaz Sharif, Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar did not attend the ceremony.

'Democracy progressing a good thing'

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa attended the oath-taking ceremony, where he also interacted with guests.

When asked by a journalist as to how does he see the democratic process, the army chief replied: "Democracy is progressing; it is a good thing."

Abbasi was elected as the new prime minister following the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court last week.

"I want to thank the supporters and our partners in the coalition who voted for us," said Abbasi, after having been elected as prime minister. "I am also grateful to the opposition and Imran Khan, for remembering us in their daily slandering."

“Four days ago, the Supreme Court verdict was completely embraced by us but not the public. The prime minister left the PM House after the verdict. There were no rifts in the party following the verdict,” he said, adding that democracy was not derailed and was now "back on track".

Abbasi praised the leadership and principles of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and criticised the opposition for accusing him of corruption. "Nawaz is guilty because he made this country an atomic power and strengthened the economy."

"Whether I am in power for 45 days or 45 hours, I will work as the prime minister of the country and will not mere hold the post," added the eighteenth prime minister.

Candidates fielded

Major political parties had fielded their respective candidates for the premier slot.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had nominated former petroleum minister and veteran politician Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as its candidate for prime minister.

From the assembly's second biggest party in terms of numbers, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Naveed Qamar was contesting for the slot whereas Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) fielded Sheikh Rasheed as its nominee.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), the assembly's fourth largest party, voted for the PML-N candidate. The party had earlier nominated its MNA Kishwer Zehra for the slot but withdrew her nominated following a meeting with PML-N leaders.

Jamaat-e-Islami fielded Sahibzada Tariqullah as their candidate for the new prime minister.

The opposition intended to 'put up a fight', although the PML-N held a majority in the National Assembly.

The opposition parties' meeting on Monday failed to result in agreement over a joint candidate.

At present, there are three seats empty, including the one of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in the 342-seat Lower House of the Parliament.

The winning candidate required 172 votes to win.