Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former petroleum minister, was elected as the country’s new prime minister on Tuesday.
He secured 221 votes against Pakistan Peoples Party’s Naveed Qamar’s 47 and Sheikh Rashid’s 33. Jamaat-e-Islami’s Sahibzada Tariqullah managed to secure only four votes.
“I am grateful to the members, the masses, and Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister of the masses,” Abbasi said after being elected. “I am even thankful to Imran Khan despite his party’s mudslinging.”
The Supreme Court verdict, he added, has failed to create rifts within the party. “There is no charge of corruption on Nawaz Sharif,” he said. “He was punished for the development of this country, adding electricity to the national grid, among other monumental steps.”
He took the oath of office from President Mamnoon Hussain in a ceremony held at Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad. High-level officials, including army chief General Qamar Bajwa were present on the occasion.
His election came three days after former premier Nawaz Sharif was disqualified and made ineligible to hold public office by the Supreme Court for hiding assets in his nomination papers for the 2013 general elections.
Qamar was contesting from the Pakistan People’s Party, Awami Muslim League leader Rashid was the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s candidate, also backed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, following a meeting with the PML-N leadership, had pulled out its candidate, Kishwar Zehra, and announced that it would support Abbasi.
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, being an ally of the ruling party, was supporting the PML-N candidate, whereas the Awami National Party abstained from the election process on account of the opposition’s lack of consensus.
Essa Noori, the lone MNA from Balochistan National Party-Mengal, also did not cast his vote.
Abbasi will remain the PM until Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif runs for NA-120, Lahore, the seat left vacant after Nawaz’s disqualification, and then take over as the new ‘permanent’ premier until the 2018 polls.
Abbasi’s entry into politics was accidental. The 58-year old politician hailing from Murree’s Abbasi family was destined to become a businessman to look after the family’s business interests. It was only after Shahid’s father Khaqan Abbasi, who was a federal minister in General Ziaul Haq’s cabinet, died in April 1988 in the infamous
It was the Ojhri camp incident that Shahid had to enter into politics fortuitously.
He contested elections from NA-50 Murree and became an MNA in 1988 after his father’s demise. He then joined Islami Jamhori Ittehad (IJI). Abbasi again won from the platform of IJI in 1990. In 1993, when Pakistan Muslim League emerged under Sharif’s leadership (which later became PML-Nawaz) Abbasi won from PML’s forum. He has won from the NA seat six times. (1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2008, 2013) However, he lost to PPP’s Murtaza Satti in the 2002 general elections. Abbasi is a graduate of University of California and holds a master’s degree from George Washington University.
Prior to being nominated for interim PM by the PML-N leadership, Abbasi was petroleum minister. He is also a businessman who is a co-owner of private airline Airblue. Abbasi remained Chairman PIA during Nawaz’s previous federal government in 1997. He is regarded as an aviation expert. His stint as petroleum minister was marred by corruption allegations related to irregular award of LNG contracts.