Pakistan elects Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim prime minister
ISLAMABAD – Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has been elected as 29th prime minister of Pakistan with 221 votes, days after his party chief Nawaz Sharif was ousted over corruption allegations.
Lawmakers in Pakistan had assembled in National Assembly – lower house of the Parliament – to elect a new prime minister.
The ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), had nominated former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to serve as interim leader. He takes on a caretaker role until Nawaz Sharif’s brother, Shehbaz Sharif, can take over.
Shehbaz is chief minister of Punjab province and must win a parliamentary by-election from NA-120 to be eligible for PM. He is to contest the parliamentary seat left vacant by his ousted brother but that process is expected to take at least 45 days.
Opposition groups had also nominated candidates but the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) holds a majority in the National Assembly which confirmed Mr Abbasi’s win.
Five candidates other than Abbasi were in the fray to contest the election at the specially convened session of the house on Tuesday afternoon.
They included PPP’s Syed Khurshid Shah and Syed Naveed Qamar, PTI-nominated Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, and Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sahibzada Tariqullah.
Opposition parties met in Islamabad on Monday before filing of the nomination papers to agree on a consensus candidate but failed to make a breakthrough.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is a long-time ally of Nawaz Sharif. He was jailed for two years in 1999 after the military toppled Nawaz Sharif, ending the second of his three spells as prime minister.
Abbasi, 58, has remained mostly unbeaten in his political career, having only lost to PPP candidate Ghulam Murtaza Satti in 2002. However, aside from that particular contest, he has won every election he has contested in from 1988 till 2013.
Abbasi has represented Rawalpindi since first being elected a member of the National Assembly in 1988. He was elected after the death of his father, Khaqan Abbasi – the then minister of production.
He was elected as member of the National Assembly in the 1990 general elections for the second time and made parliamentary secretary for defence.
In the 1993 general elections, he was elected to parliament once more and held office as the chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence.
Abbasi was elected again, for the fourth time, in 1997, and served as Chairman of Pakistan International Airlines from 1997 to 1999 in Nawaz Sharif’s second term.
The interim prime minister-designate briefly held the positions of Minister for Commerce and Ministry of Defense Production in Yousuf Raza Gilani’s government in 2008.
He is currently facing a Rs220 billion corruption inquiry being carried out by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). He is a principal accused in a NAB case registered in 2015 regarding award of a liquefied natural gas import contract.