Shahid Khaqan Abbasi elected as interim Prime Minister of Pakistan

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has sworn in as the Prime Minister of Pakistan after bagging with 221 votes from the 342-member National Assembly.

Abbasi replaced the 67-year-old Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified by the country’s Supreme Court in connection with Panama Papers leaks. Sharif’s children — Mariam, Hassan and Hussain – were the beneficial owners of offshore companies set up in the British Virgin Islands, a known tax haven.

Abbasi, a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party, got 221 votes in the 342-member National Assembly. His closest rival Syed Naveed Qamar from the opposition Pakistan People’s Party secured 47 votes, according to Ayaz Sadiq, the National Assembly Speaker.

Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, a lawmaker from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, founded by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, got 33 votes.

In his first televised speech, an emotionally-charged Abbasi, said the people of Pakistan did not accept Sharif’s disqualification, and vowed to follow in his footsteps of Sharif.

Sharif’s party wants Abbasi to serve as an interim premier until Sharif’s younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab province, wins a national assembly seat in a by-election.

Profile of Pakistan’s new PM

  • Mr. Abbasi, 58, is a long-time loyalist of Nawaz Sharif.
  • Mr. Abbasi has been elected to Parliament six times, losing an election only once.
  • He is the owner of private airline AirBlue.
  • Mr. Abbasi has gone to prison for his political patron. He spent two years behind bars after a 1999 coup, in which Mr. Sharif was overthrown by Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
  • An electrical engineer by training, he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s from George Washington University in Washington.

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About the Author: Akhtar Jamal

Tribune International