Following the
ouster of PTI chairman Imran Khan from the office of the prime minister, the
Opposition’s joint candidate Shehbaz Sharif was elected as the 23rd premier of
Pakistan Monday.

Shehbaz
secured 174 votes as opposed to PTI’s candidate Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who
received no votes after his party decided to boycott the polling process.

The poll took
place under the chairmanship of MNA Ayaz Sadiq,  two days after the lower
house of Parliament voted in favour of removing Imran Khan from office,
following a nearly 14-hour standoff between the Opposition and Khan’s ruling
party that started on Saturday morning.

The Monday
session formally started after a brief delay with a recitation of the Holy
Quran and naat, with NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri in the chair. 

The session,
however, has been adjourned till 4pm on Wednesday, April 16.

‘Historic day’

Taking the
floor, the newly elected prime minister Shehbaz thanked the Almighty Allah for
his uncountable blessings.

He mentioned
that Almighty Allah has protected the country which was also because of the
hectic efforts of the leaders of the joint Opposition members.

The premier
mentioned that it was for the first time in the history of Pakistan that a
prime minister was ousted through the no-confidence motion.

Terming today
a “historic day”, he mentioned that the happiness of the people can be seen
through the economic indicators. Shehbaz mentioned that the rupee regained its
value — which was trading at Rs190 per dollar and closed at Rs182 per dollar
today.

“Imran Khan
was the person who said that when rupee gains Re1 against the US dollar then
the prime minister of the country is a corrupt person now he should see that
the rupee has recovered around Rs8,” he said.

He
acknowledged the Supreme Court’s “unanimous” verdict saying that the day when
the apex court gave its judgment should be marked as a “historic day” in the
history of Pakistan. 

‘Will probe
threat letter’

The
newly-elected prime minister said the Opposition was discussing the
no-confidence motion days before Imran Khan’s “concocted threat letter
controversy”.

“They
say that this letter came to them on March 7, but our decisions were made way
before that, so, if [what the previous government claimed] is a lie, then the
matter should be disclosed transparently before the public,” he said.

Therefore, PM
Shehbaz Sharif announced that the parliament’s security committee would be
given a briefing on the “threat letter” to the members of the committee
in presence of the armed forces personnel and bureaucrats — the
director-general Inter-Services Intelligence, foreign secretary, and the
ambassador who wrote it, who has now been transferred to Brussels.

“If
there’s an iota of evidence that we were backed by foreign conspirators […]
then with you Mr speaker and God as my witness, I will not think for another
second and resign from the office of the prime minister,” PM Shehbaz
Sharif said, vowing to hold an in-camera session of the security committee at
the earliest.

The prime
minister thanked his brother and ex-premier Nawaz Sharif for his support, while
also lauding social media activists, press clubs, media houses, and lawyers for
backing the Opposition’s struggle for democracy.

On economy

Moving
towards the topic of economy, the newly-elected prime minister said if Pakistan
were to progress, then it needs to be self-sufficient on the financial front.

“…we
will need to protect and respect the nation as neither was anyone a traitor nor
are they traitors now,” the prime minister said, noting if Pakistan’s
economy were to move forward, then, the government will have to use
“dialogue” and not move towards a deadlock.

PM Shehbaz
Sharif said hard work was required for Pakistan’s progress as if only statements
could move the country forward, then during PTI’s tenure, we would have been
among the leading nations.


  • The minimum wage will be
    jacked up to Rs25,000 (from April 1).
  • 10% increase in pensions
    of retired civil, and military officials (from April 1).
  • Cheap wheat to be
    introduced at utility stores.
  • Laptop and technical
    education for youth.
  • Reintroduction of
    Benazir Card.
  • Appeal to industrialists
    to increase salaries of employees who earn up to Rs100,000 by 10%.

“We will
need to wash out the effects of the previous government by working together,
otherwise, we will fail […] our economy is in a bad situation right
now,” the prime minister said.

PM Shehbaz
Sharif said the new government would take steps to make Pakistan an
“investment heaven” for investors as he noted their capital would
help the country move forward.

He announced
that despite Punjab “being the elder brother” if all the other
provinces remain behind in terms of development, then it is not Pakistan’s
development, it was just a single province’s development.

“…this
servant of Pakistan vows to make sure that Pakistan will develop and not just
Punjab,” Shehbaz said.

He said the
government would reintroduce the Benazir Card and interlink it with the education
sector in a bid to facilitate people whose children go to school.

“Our
children should be equipped with great knowledge […] we will reintroduce this
programme with consultation,” he said and lashed out at the PTI government
for discontinuing it.

Alvi in
discomfort

Meanwhile,
President Dr Arif Alvi, according to the president’s Twitter account,
complained of discomfort. Following this, “the physician has examined him
thoroughly and has advised him to rest for a few days.”

In
absence of the president — a PTI and Imran Khan loyalist — Senate Chairman
Sadiq Sanjrani will administer the oath to the newly-elected prime minister.

Take on foreign
policy

Speaking
about foreign policy, Shehbaz said China has been Pakistan’s partner through
thick and thin. “No one can snatch Pakistan and China’s friendship from us,” he
said, calling it a “long-lasting relation.”

He also
reiterated that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be carried forward
and the projects will move forward at a faster pace.

On relations
with the United Kingdom, Shehbaz said that bilateral relations need to move
forward as millions of Pakistanis live there, adding that the UK provided
funding for education in all four provinces. Meanwhile, Shehbaz also maintained
that relations with the US must also be established on equal grounds.

Speaking
about India, the newly-elected prime minister lamented that despite them
wanting peaceful ties with India, they know that until the Kashmir issue is
resolved, relations between the two cannot be strengthened.

“Urging
Indian premier Narendra Modi to understand the issues of the people living on
both the sides; there is poverty, unemployment, medical issues, etc,” he said,
questioning “why harming ourselves and the generations to come?”

He said Modi
should come forward and resolve the Kashmir issue according to the will of the
Kashmiris and reiterated that his government will continue to raise its voice
for the people of Kashmir.

Qasim Suri
defends himself

At the outset
of the session, Suri said that voting has already been done on the no-trust
motion [against Imran Khan] and there has been enough debate over the ruling he
gave on April 3, which blocked the no-trust vote against Khan.

“Complying
with the court’s orders is mandatory for everyone, but I want to put the
reasons and basis of my ruling before you.

“I made
the decision as a patriotic Pakistani, as a guardian and speaker of the
NA,” he said.

“I want
to tell you that the foreign cable was deliberated over during the meetings of
the federal cabinet, the PCNS, NSC and it was agreed that the no-confidence
motion against Khan is a foreign plot,” he said.

Suri went on
to say that the last cabinet meeting that was held on April 9, 2022, decided to
declassify the foreign cable. He said that the cable was then received by
former NA speaker Asad Qaiser, who closely read it.

Suri then
flashed the “cable”, saying that he also received it as the deputy
speaker.

“In this
cable, Pakistan has been openly threatened.”

Suri
reiterated that the cable was received before the motion of no-confidence was
submitted against Khan.

He asked if
it was Khan’s fault that he talked about an independent foreign policy or spoke
for the honour of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), or fought the case against Islamophobia.

The deputy
speaker asked if Pakistan is not a free country.

“Was
Khan punished for not accepting slavery?”

Suri then
announced that he will send the declassified cable in a “sealed”
envelope to the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

Suri
concluded by saying that he has accepted the apex court’s decision to reverse
his ruling and the restoration of the Assembly as it was, and has tried to run
parliamentary affairs as per NA rules and the Constitution. He then allowed
former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to speak.

‘Some will win,
some will get free’: Qureshi

Taking the
floor, former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that today’s
constitutional process has to end today as some will be declared a winner
today, while the other one will be declared “free”.

“The nation
has two paths; one path is of self-respect while the other one is of slavery,”
he said, appreciating Imran Khan for trusting him [Qureshi] by nominating him.

Calling the
PTI a “relatively” new party compared to other parties, he said it has managed
to leave a strong impression on the minds of the public.

Qureshi
pointed towards the treasury benches, saying that today, the nation can see
that on one side are people who share the same pro-country ideology and on the
other side, people are only united and are sitting with several ideologies.

The PTI
vice-chairman said: “In view of PTI members, the unity among the Opposition
benches is unnatural because history knows that there is no ideological unity.
among them”.

Recalling
several incidents, he said: “History bears witness that they have always tried
to bring each other down.”

Qureshi said
that they may think that some of them [Opposition members] have won while the
people on the treasury benches have lost; however, the nation showed them
yesterday who are they standing with.

Referring to
last night’s protests staged by PTI supporters in various cities — both in
Pakistan and abroad — he said that people came out on the streets on Imran
Khan’s call which shows that today “some people will lose despite winning in
the assembly while others will win even if they lose the race of prime
ministership.”

‘Imran Khan
taught nation to live an independent life’

“Imran Khan
has taught the nation how to live an independent life,” he said, adding that
despite being a graduate of Oxford University, he promoted the national
language and national dress of Pakistan on all occasions.

Qureshi went
on to say that when Imran Khan met Donald Trump in the White House, he was
wearing a Peshwari chappal, while during a meeting with Russian President
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, he was wearing Shalwar Kameez.

Amid constant
calls from the deputy speaker urging members sitting on the Opposition benches
to maintain the order of the House, Qureshi continued saying that the
Opposition members have formed a temporary collision that would not last long,
adding that Shahbaz Sharif knows he does not have the “support of the people.”

Lashing out
at the Opposition parties, the ex-foreign minister said PPP and PML-N could not
think of appointing someone outside their families for the top office of the
prime minister and chief minister.

Qureshi said
the PML-N and PPP were part of governments for 40 years but did not allow Imran
Khan to even stay in power for even four years. “Were they not enough for
you to introduce electoral reforms?”

The PTI
leader said the people have rejected the coalition’s “imported
government” — and it was not only witnessed in Pakistan but abroad as
well.

“Let the
people of Pakistan choose between an independent or an enslaved Pakistan […]
do you want the Pakistan in which there are several diseases, or do you want a
Pakistan which we envision,” the ex-foreign minister said.

Qureshi said
in the “old Pakistan”, every child is in debt, a majority portion of
the revenue goes into debt servicing, a “historic trade deficit”,
International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) doors were knocked on, the GDP’s growth was
stagnant, and unemployment was rising.

“In line
with the party’s unanimous decision, we have decided not to partake in their
(Opposition) illegal actions; we aspire for an independent Pakistan, and we
announce to resign [from assemblies] today,” the PTI Vice-Chairman Shah
Mahmood Qureshi announced, followed by loud chants of “hum kya chahte hain? azadi.”

As the
ex-foreign minister announced PTI’s decision, NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri also
said his “conscience” does not allow him to hold the election for the
new prime minister, therefore, he handed over the chair of the session to MNA
Ayaz Sadiq — the senior-most member of the panel of chair.

Khan arrives at
Parliament House first time after ouster as PM

Meanwhile,
Khan arrived at the Parliament House ahead of the election for the new prime
minister for the first time since his ouster as the premier.

Upon the
arrival of their leader, PTI members chanted slogans in his favour. When asked
to comment on PTI’s massive power show on Sunday night, Khan said:

Izzat dene wala Allah hai (it is God
who gives us respect).”

Tens of
hundreds of PTI supporters took to the streets across Pakistan to protest
Khan’s removal from office, on his call.

Khan will
chair a meeting of the parliamentary party to finalise the strategy for the
PM’s election and decide about en masse resignations from the National
Assembly, which has created division within the party.

Today’s
meeting is the first meeting of the parliamentary party after his removal from
the office and the former PM, to the surprise of many, arrived early while the
lawmakers came afterwards.

NA accepts Shehbaz, Qureshi’s nomination
papers

The NA Secretariat accepted the
nomination papers
 of joint Opposition’s nominee Sharif and
his opponent Qureshi’s nomination papers to contest the re-election for the
slot of the prime minister Sunday night.

Taking to
Twitter, the NA announced that the nomination papers of both candidates were
scrutinised, after which they were accepted.

The
Opposition parties submitted eleven nomination papers to the NA Secretariat for
Shehbaz Sharif with no covering candidates. Meanwhile, top PPP leaders Asif Ali
Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari signed a nomination paper as the proposer
and seconder, while Khursheed Shah and Naveed Qamar also signed the other
nomination paper as the proposer and seconder.

MQM-P
parliamentarians Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Syed Aminul Haq were the proposer
and seconder for Shehbaz Sharif in the third nomination paper, respectively.
Similarly, Mohsin Dawar, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Azam Khan Hoti, Khawaja Asif,
Maulana Asad Mahmood, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Khalid
Magsi were proposers, while Ali Wazir, Khwaja Saad Rafique, Nawab Shahzain Bugti,
Rana Tanveer Hussain, Shahida Akhtar Ali, Agha Hasan Baloch, Maryam Aurangzeb
and Muhammad Israr Tarin were seconders in eight other Shehbaz Sharif’s
nomination papers.

PTI
parliamentarians Zain Qureshi, Ms Malaika Bokhari and Aamir Dogar submitted the
nomination papers of Shah Mehmood Qureshi to the NA secretary. Aamir Dogar and
Ali Muhammad Khan signed the nomination papers as the seconder and the proposer
for the PTI candidate, respectively.

Two sides
engage in heated argument

PTI leader Dr
Babar Awan raised an objection to the nomination papers of the combined
Opposition’s candidate saying that Shehbaz Sharif would be the first prime
minister in the world who is on bail for 10 months in corruption cases.

At this, the
NA secretary asked Babar Awan not to deliver political speeches and only hand
over the charges in writing to him.

Qureshi told
the official not to interrupt the arguments of his lawyers.

“The
government has started rigging before the commencement of the voting process,”
he said.

The NA secretary,
however, rejected all objections to Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination papers. The
raising of objections led to a heated argument between the two sides.

Meanwhile,
Qureshi and PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal exchanged harsh words during the filing of
papers.

“You are no
longer a foreign minister,” Ahsan was heard telling Qureshi, who responded
aggressively saying, “you are not a candidate, please get out of the room”.

A delegation
of the united Opposition also reached the office of the acting National
Assembly speaker where the nomination papers were being scrutinised.

The election
of the prime minister will take place through a division of vote in the House.

Sharif is
expected to secure 176 votes of the combined opposition. His votes would touch
the figure of 200 if dissident members of PTI decide to participate and vote in
his favour.

 


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2022-04-11

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