Shehbaz Sharif elected new Prime Minister of Pakistan | Political news
Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan’s parliament elected Shehbaz Sharif as the country’s prime minister after Imran Khan was ousted last weekend in a vote of no confidence.
Ahead of Monday’s vote, MPs from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party resigned en masse, boycotting the election of Sharif, the younger brother of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
“Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has been elected prime minister,” interim president Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said.
In his first speech as Prime Minister to the National Assembly, Sharif announced an increase in salaries, pensions and the minimum wage for workers.
Sharif referred to the outgoing government’s foreign policy failures and said he would accelerate the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and rebuild broken ties with partners and allies.
“We want good relations with India but there can be no lasting peace until the Kashmir issue is resolved,” he said.
Sharif invited his Indian counterpart to help resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with United Nations resolutions.
The Prime Minister did not miss the opportunity to respond to Khan’s allegations that the United States had conspired with his adversaries to overthrow his government.
Sharif ordered a closed briefing of the parliamentary committee on national security. Senior civilian and military officials, including Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, will also attend the meeting.
“I will stand down and if there is an iota of proof [against me],” he said.
Earlier, Sharif got 174 votes and will now form a new government which can stay in place until August 2023 when general elections are held.
No prime minister has ever completed a five-year term in the country’s nearly 75-year history.
The parliamentary vote took place under tight security, with almost all the roads leading to the National Assembly being sealed.
Sharif, 70, comes from an industrial family that has become a political dynasty.
He was elected to the National Assembly in 2018 and led the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party after his older brother was banned from public office for life after being found guilty of corruption.
Khan, a cricketer turned politician, was removed from office in the early hours of Sunday after 174 MPs voted against him in parliament. Later in the day, tens of thousands of PTI supporters took to the streets in cities across Pakistan to show their support.
“The rallies gave the message that Khan was still a popular leader,” political analyst Zahid Hussain told Al Jazeera.
Hussain said Khan decided to take to the streets instead of facing the opposition in parliament.
On Monday, the benchmark KSE-100 index of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) climbed more than 1,500 points, with analysts attributing the rally to the potential end of weeks of political instability, the Dawn newspaper reported.
The index opened at 44,444.58 and was up 1,541.57 points, or 3.47%, as of 12:30 p.m. (0730 GMT), according to the report.
“The market reacted positively to political stability,” financial analyst Tahir Abbas told Al Jazeera.
Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said his party would boycott the elections and not legitimize the process.
At the start of the proceedings, Vice President Qasim Suri explained the reasons for his controversial decision to reject the motion of no confidence against Khan on April 3.
Suri said the court declared the decision unconstitutional, but found it “as a responsible Pakistani patriot and as a guardian of the National Assembly”.