Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, 18th Prime Minister of Pakistan
The National Assembly elected its eighteenth Prime Minister,Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, also from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on Tuesday.
Abbasi won the elections by a landslide margin, securing 221 votes,out of a total of 339,against Pakistan People’s Party’s nominee Naveed Qamar (47) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s nominee Sheikh Rashid (33).
“I am grateful to the members, the masses, and Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister of the masses,” Abbasi said after his election. “I am even thankful to Imran Khan despite his party’s constant slandering.”
Prior to being nominated for “interim” PM, Abbasi held office as the minister for petroleum and is co-owner of private airline Airblue. In Nawaz Sharif’s previous federal government, Abbasi remained Chairman of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and hence, is regarded as an aviation expert by some.
Abbasi is set to remain PM until Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif runs for NA-120 in Lahore, the seat left vacant after Nawaz’s disqualification and then take over as the permanent PM until the 2018 election.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified from holding public office by the Supreme Court on Friday. He was disqualified and deemed ineligible to hold public office under Article 62 (1) (f) of the country’s Constitution over his failure to disclose assetsfrom a UAE-based company in his nomination papers for the 2013 general election. It implied he was not ‘honest’ and ‘truthful’, as per the requirement of the Constitution.
While Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) had extended their support for PTI’s Sheikh Rashid, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), voted for the PML-N candidate. MQM initially nominated its MNA Kishwer Zehra for the slot but withdrew her nomination after a meeting with PML-N leaders.
Even though the opposition intended to fight against the PML-N majority in the National Assembly, the parties failed to agree over a joint candidate at their meeting on Monday.
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), an ally of the ruling party, was supporting the PML-N candidate, whereas the Awami National Party (ANP) abstained from the election process on account of the opposition’s lack of consensus. Essa Noori, the only MNA from Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), also abstained from participating in the voting process.
After his election as interim PM, Abbasi praised the leadership and ways of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and criticised the opposition for accusing Sharif of corruption. He also referred to power projects and said there will be no load-shedding after November and mentioned the development projects started by the PML-N government. Concluding his acceptance speech, he said he is confident that former PM Nawaz Sharif will return to his seat.
Sheikh Rashid congratulated Abbasi on his win but was cautious to criticise the prime minister-elect for not mentioning foreign policy in his speech.
After the election, the new prime minister-elect will take oath of his office at the Presidency in a ceremony administered by President Mamnoon Hussain.
Amongst ambassadors, senior judges and other prominent members of the fraternity, Nawaz Sharif is also expected to be in attendance to observe the oath-taking.