Pak­istan elects new PM to­day

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pak­istan’s par­lia­ment will meet to­day to elect a new prime min­is­ter af­ter the Supreme Court dis­qual­i­fied Nawaz Sharif fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions against his fam­ily. The rul­ing party named Sharif’s younger brother Shah­baz as his suc­ces­sor over the week­end, but he must first en­ter par­lia­ment by con­test­ing the seat left va­cant by Sharif.

In the mean­time the Pak­istan Mus­lim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which en­joys a ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment, has nom­i­nated ex­oil min­is­ter Shahid Khaqan Ab­basi as in­terim prime min­is­ter. The top court ousted Sharif Fri­day af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions against him and his fam­ily, bring­ing his his­toric third term in power to an un­cer­e­mo­ni­ous end and briefly plung­ing the nu­cle­ar­armed na­tion into po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity.

Nawaz Sharif was the 15th prime min­is­ter in Pak­istan’s 70-year his­to­ry­roughly half of which was un­der mil­i­tary rule-to be ousted be­fore com­plet­ing a full term. “The nom­i­na­tion pa­pers —- shall be de­liv­ered to the Sec­re­tary, Na­tional Assem­bly by 2.00 pm, on Mon­day,” said a no­ti­fi­ca­tion by the Na­tional Assem­bly Sec­re­tariat and seen by AFP. It said the assem­bly would meet at 3:00 pm Tues­day (1000 GMT) to elect a prime min­is­ter.

The younger Sharif-who is chief min­is­ter of the coun­try’s most pop­u­lous prov­ince of Pun­jab-has so far been un­scathed by the cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions en­gulf­ing his brother’s fam­ily. On Satur­day the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion said fresh elec­tions would be held in Nawaz Sharif’s for­mer con­stituency, in the fam­ily’s power base in Pun­jab, in a process that could take up to 45 days.

Ab­basi is set to be rub­ber-stamped as place­holder in the par­lia­men­tary vote. The op­po­si­tion could also field a can­di­date but has lit­tle chance of se­cur­ing enough votes in the 342-seat house. Pak­istan’s main op­po­si­tion leader Im­ran Khan plans to hold a rally cel­e­brat­ing Sharif’s oust­ing in the cap­i­tal Is­lam­abad later Sun­day. With cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions en­gulf­ing the pow­er­ful Sharif fam­ily-a dom­i­nant force in the coun­try’s pol­i­tics for the last three decades-crick­eter-turn­politi­cian Khan is hop­ing to win sup­port for his Pak­istan Tehreek-e-In­saf (PTI) party.

The grass­roots PTI has long cam­paigned on an anti-cor­rup­tion plat­form and ex­pects thou­sands to come out for what is dubbed a “Thanks­giv­ing Rally”. “It wasn’t a po­lit­i­cal game play, it was the na­tion’s bat­tle against the cor­rupt mafia. Join Pak­istan as it cel­e­brates #YaumETashakur (Thanks­giv­ing) to­day,” PTI tweeted on its of­fi­cial han­dle. How­ever, Khan him­self faces graft al­le­ga­tions in court linked to the nondis­clo­sure of as­sets and off­shore com­pa­nies-sim­i­lar charges that brought down Sharif.

The case, brought by a mem­ber of Sharif’s PML-N party, seeks to have Khan dis­qual­i­fied on the same con­tentious clause in the con­sti­tu­tion that ousted Sharif-the re­quire­ment that Pak­istani politi­cians be hon­est. Khan’s lawyers have de­nied all charges and say his wealth steams from his lu­cra­tive crick­et­ing ca­reer. — AFP

Shahid Ab­basi

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