I have no desire for 'revenge', says Maryam Nawaz after becoming first female Punjab CM

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Punjab CM-elect Maryam Nawaz addressing the Punjab Assembly after her election victory. — Screengrab/PTV News
Punjab CM-elect Maryam Nawaz addressing the Punjab Assembly after her election victory. — Screengrab/PTV News

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Sunday was elected as Punjab's chief minister amid a boycott by the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) of the polls.

Maryam, who has become the first-ever female chief minister in Pakistan’s history, won the elections after receiving the backing of 220 MPAs in the provincial assembly.

Her opponent, Sunni Ittehad Council's (SIC) candidate Rana Aftab Ahmad, did not get any votes as the party boycotted the elections after they were stopped from speaking.

"The votes have been counted according to which Maryam has obtained 220 votes and SIC candidate Rana Aftab Aftab secured zero votes," said Speaker Malik Ahmad Khan while presiding the session. 

After announcing the result, the speaker invited CM-elect Maryam Nawaz to come to the seat of the leader of the House.

She started her speech by congratulating the newly-elected speaker and deputy speaker.

"I wanted the opposition to be present in this democratic process," said Maryam while extending an olive branch to the opposition in her maiden speech. She also thanked her party lawmakers, allied parties Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Istehkam-e-Pakistan (IPP) members for voting in her favour.

"This is the honour of every mother, sister and daughter that a woman has been elected as the CM and I pray that the process continues and more women take my place as the leader of the house," she expressed.

"I neither have a feeling of revenge or vengeance and my journey includes my arrest, my father's arrest, my mother’s passing away," she said. 

The Punjab CM-elect further thanked the opposition for making her "pass through" all the "ordeal" which helped her reach in the province's top office.

"On this occasion, I thank my late mother too as she knowingly and unknowingly trained me for this day. She is still present with me, her prayers and best wishes. She taught me how to face trials," said Maryam in her winning speech.

"I am thankful that you have made me occupy the seat from where a visionary leader like Nawaz started his career [and] who later made Pakistan invincible with nuclear technology," said the newly-elected chief minister.

She said that the senior PML-N leaders including Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif were her mentors. "I consider this office as a big responsibility on my shoulders," she added.

She also hoped to rise above the political polarisation to serve Punjab, assuring that she will resolve the issues of her opponents' constituencies regardless of their party affiliation.

Maryam shares vision for next five years 

Vowing to start work from today, Maryam said that the reforms are required in the economy's backbone with facilitation of businessmen and small medium enterprises.

"I desire to make Punjab an economic hub by empowering businessmen and we will provide one-window solution for establishing and running businesses," she promised.

"We will facilitate the business community so that they can attract investment in the province," she added.

The newly-elected CM said that she has zero tolerance against corruption.

Speaking about the upcoming month of Ramadan, Maryam said that her government will establish Ramadan Sasta Bazaars across the province for the inflation-hit people. 

"A body will regulate prices in the market so that no commodity is sold more than the fixed rates," she added.

In a bid to improve the school curriculum in the province, Maryam said that it will be revised to upgrade it to modern education. She also said schools of the province would be improved through public-private partnerships.

Speaking about the health sector of Punjab, Maryam vowed to build a major hospital in each district of Punjab which would have units for cancer and kidney treatment as well. She also announced to provide free medicines in public hospitals.

"Within 12 first weeks, we will launch Punjab’s first air ambulance service," she promised, adding that she has directed 1122 to establish an organised fleet of ambulance for the motorways.

Maryam added she would re-introduce Nawaz Sharif’s health card in an effective manner across the province.

Highlighting the issue of harassment, the CM-elect said that she wants to launch an exclusive helpline for women. 

"The women who go out of her house for any necessity should be protected," she said.

She further talked about equality, saying that women should be given loans equal to men. She added that her government would try to establish a daycare centre at every workplace.

CM-elect Maryam also vowed to provide rights and protection to marginalised and minority communities. She added that the province should be digitalised and paper-free so that people don’t have to stand in queues.

"I will establish at least five IT cities in my tenure," she vowed, saying that the PML-N will try to bring tech giants into Punjab.

"We are going to launch a pilot project of free wifi across Lahore," she said.

Maryam also announced an investigation into the Taxila incident, in which a police official thrashed an elderly woman to bring the culprit to justice.

"I am working on a plan to provide solar panels in instalments to the consumers of 300 or below units," she added.

Further speaking about her five-year plan, Maryam said that she will try to ensure the health and life insurance of media workers as well as take care of their spouses and children.

"Today's proceeding has been completed, hence, I adjourn the assembly session indefinitely," said the speaker after Maryam concluded her victory speech.

Fourth Sharif family member to rule Punjab

Apart from becoming the first female chief minister in the country, Maryam has also become the fourth member of the Sharif family and first woman member of her family to get elected as CM.

The PML-N senior vice president was elected on two seats in Lahore — NA 119 and PP-159 — during the February 8 general elections. Post-elections she she withdrew from the National Assembly seat.

In the PP-159 constituency, she contested against PTI-backed independent candidate Mehr Sharafat and won with a slim margin.

Overall, she is the sixth member of Sharif family who has been elected in a general or a by-election.

Before her, Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Abbas Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz and Begum Kalsoom Nawaz were elected from Lahore.

SIC boycott 

Members of SIC walkout of the Punjab Assembly ahead of the polling for the Punjab chief minister elections. — Screengrab/PTV News
Members of SIC walkout of the Punjab Assembly ahead of the polling for the Punjab chief minister elections. — Screengrab/PTV News

The session, which began with over a 30-minute delay, was being presided over by newly-elected Punjab Assembly Speaker Malik Ahmad Khan.

At the start of the session, Speaker Khan administered oath to two MPAs and then assured the lawmakers that he would run the House without any bias.

The speaker then briefed the Assembly that after completing the scrutiny of the nomination papers, PML-N's Maryam Nawaz and SIC's Rana Aftab Ahmad Khan had emerged as the candidates vying for the chief minister's slot.

Following this, the speaker directed the secretary of the Assembly to brief the members about the voting process.

Once this was done, the SIC's candidate for CM requested the speaker to address the House on a point of order but was barred from speaking.

"In today's session, only elections will be held for the chief minster. You cannot speak in today's session," Speaker Khan told the SIC candidate as he tried to speak up.

After being barred from speaking, the members of the SIC walked out of the House which led to a delay in the start of the elections.

As the SIC MPAs walked out, the speaker formed a committee, comprising Khawaja Salman Rafique, Salman Nazeer, Samiullah and Khalil Tahir Sindhu, to convince the legislators to return to the Assembly.

The speaker then also sent PPP's Ali Haider Gilani and PML-Q's Chaudhry Shafay Hussain to convince the SIC MPAs to return for last time.

While sending them the speaker warned that if the lawmakers do not return then he would move forward with the proceedings.

However, the efforts went in vain and the speaker then went ahead with the proceedings and began the process of electing a new leader of the House.

Each member that cast their vote was sent to the lobby and remained there till the completion of the voting process.

Once the counting of votes was done the members were invited back to the Assembly for the announcement of the results.