Pakistan's National Assembly to meet today to elect next prime minister; Imran Khan and Shehbaz Sharif in fray

Islamabad: Pakistan's newly-elected National Assembly will meet on Friday to elect the prime minister, as cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's victory has become almost certain after a rift emerged in the grand opposition alliance over the candidature of PML-N chief Shahbaz Sharif.

Khan, 65, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Sharif have filed nominations for the top slot of the leader of the house.

File image of PTI leader Imran Khan. AP

File image of PTI leader Imran Khan. AP

The scrutiny of their papers was carried out in the office of the speaker. The papers of both leaders were accepted. According to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, the parliament session has been summoned at 3.30 pm on Friday to elect the new prime minister.

The voting will be held in open through the division of members in different galleries designated for different candidates. The Prime Minister-elect will take oath on 18 August.

The PTI emerged as the single largest party with 116 seats in July 25 elections. Its number increased to 125 after nine independent members joined it and final tally reached 158 after it was allotted 28 out of 60 seats reserved for women and five out of 10 seats reserved for minorities.

The PTI has the support of smaller parties including Muttahida Quami Movement with seven seats, Balochistan Awami Party five, Balochistan National Party four, Pakistan Muslim League three, Grand Democratic Alliance three, Awami Muslim League and Jamori Watan Party one seat each. Khan may take a lead of 30 to 35 votes in the tomorrow's election for the office of prime minister, Dawn reported.

Meanwhile, the rift persisted in the grand opposition alliance over the candidature of Sharif, the paper said. The Pakistan Peoples Party has asked the PML-N to review its decision and nominate someone else as a joint candidate of the 11-party opposition alliance in place of Sharif, who was said to have passed derogatory remarks against PPP co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari in the recent past.

However, the PML-N reacted strongly to the demand and threatened that this could lead to the change of the leader of the opposition and the chairman of the Senate. The efforts were underway to remove differences between the PML-N and the PPP over Sharif's candidature. Senior PML-N leader Mushahid Hussain said the grand opposition alliance was formed to ensure fair and free elections in the country but if the PPP stuck to its stance the alliance would collapse, the paper added.

If elected, Khan's government will be the third consecutive democratic government in Pakistan since 2008 when military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf announced elections after serving as president from 2001 to 2008 following a bloodless coup in 1999. The PPP formed the government in 2008, followed by the PML-N led by jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 2013.

Pakistan's powerful military has ruled the country through various coups for nearly half of the country's history since independence in 1947. Even during the civilian rule, the generals have wielded enormous power, setting the agenda for the country's foreign and security policies.


Updated Date: Aug 17, 2018 08:29 AM

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