Pak parliament to elect new PM today
As Pakistan recovered from Saturday's long and tiring National Assembly (NA) session which saw Imran Khan lose his government, politicians yesterday submitted their nomination papers for the prime minister's election.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi submitted four forms with the NA Secretariat, while PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, the joint opposition's candidate for the post, filed 13 forms.
The NA will meet at 2:00pm today to elect the new prime minister, reports Dawn online.
Senior PTI leader and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, meanwhile, said the PTI leadership had recommended its representatives resign en masse from the national assembly.
The Speaker would be obliged to accept those resignations that would necessitate by-elections in probably more than 100 seats.
That could plunge the country into another crisis as the election commission has previously said it would not be ready to hold elections until October.
The decision to resign was tied up with the acceptance of PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif's nomination papers for prime minister's elections, to which the PTI had raised objections. In a later development, the NA Secretariat rejected the objections and accepted Shehbaz's nomination.
Elaborating on the PTI's decision to nominate its Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi for the prime minister's position after a successful vote of no-confidence against Khan, Chaudhry said that contesting the election offered the party a way to challenge Shehbaz's nomination papers.
He said it was a "great injustice" that Shehbaz would be contesting the election for the prime minister on the same day he is to be indicted in a money laundering case.
"What can be more insulting for Pakistan that a foreign selected and foreign imported government is imposed on it and a person like Shehbaz is made its head," he rued.
Imran Khan yesterday reiterated his "foreign conspiracy" claim and said the "freedom struggle begins today".
"Pakistan became an independent state in 1947; but the freedom struggle begins again today against a foreign conspiracy of regime change. It is always the people of the country who defend their sovereignty & democracy," Khan tweeted.
Strict security measures are still in place around the D-chowk with police saying that the roads leading to Parliament will be opened after election of the new premier.
The front-runner to become Pakistan's next prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, said Khan's departure was a chance for a new beginning.
"A new dawn has started ... This alliance will rebuild Pakistan," Sharif, 70, told parliament yesterday.
"I don't want to go back to bitterness of the past. We want to forget them and move forward. We will not take revenge or do injustice; we will not send people to jail for no reason, law and justice will take its course," the 70-year-old former chief minister of Punjab province said.
His first tasks will be to repair relations with the powerful military as well as key ally the United States, and tend to a stuttering economy.
The military viewed Khan and his conservative agenda favourably when he won election in 2018, but that support waned after a falling-out over the appointment of the influential military intelligence chief and economic troubles that led to the largest interest rate rise in decades this week.
Khan had antagonised the United States throughout his tenure, welcoming the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last year and more recently accusing the United States of being behind the attempt to oust him. Washington dismissed the accusation.