Pakistani lawmakers elect Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim prime minister

Wednesday, 02 Aug, 2017

Pakistan's parliament has selected Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to replace ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was dismissed last week on corruption charges.

The ruling PML-N party on Tuesday used its majority in the National Assembly to install Abbasi who is expected to serve until Sharif's brother, Shahbaz, becomes eligible to take over.

Nominee of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Sheikh Rasheed secured 33 votes whereas candidate of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Sahabzada Tariqullah bagged four votes in the NA session.

The 342-seat National Assembly is scheduled to meet at 3 pm Tuesday (today) where it is likely to easily approve former petroleum minister for the interim slot since opposition has so far failed to nominate a consensus candidate to compete Abbasi. Speaking to the media, he said the PML-N will win the election of the prime minister with a majority and the party will decide on members of the new cabinet soon after.

PML-N, which holds comfortable parliament majority, nearly certain to remain in power with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at helm.

In televised scenes, Sharif supporters and PML-N lawmakers chanted slogans in support of the former prime minister, who stood down after the Supreme Court disqualified him on Friday for dishonesty.

On Monday, the National Accountability Bureau, Pakistan's anti-corruption watchdog, said that it would be filing cases against Nawaz; his children Hasan, Hussain and Maryam; and Sharif's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Referring to the 45-day time limit on a by-election for Sharif's parliamentary seat, he added, "I may be here for 45 hours or 45 days".

Three opposition candidates also submitted nomination papers to take part in the vote.

The former petroleum minister dismissed the corruption allegations against Sharif as baseless. He obtained a degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University and started working in the United States.

Abbasi is expected to take over as interim prime minister until Shahbaz Sharif is elected to the Parliament, and then to the prime minister's office.

He was the chairman of national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from 1997 to 1999, until General Pervez Musharraf seized power, overthrowing Sharif's second government.

The ruling PML-N head Nawaz Sharif, his brother and Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar did not attend the ceremony.

Sharif denies any wrongdoing and claims the investigation into him was biased and inaccurate.