Pak­istan’s new pre­mier, for a while

Law­mak­ers elect a re­place­ment for Sharif, but he might serve only 45 days.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Aoun Sahi Sahi is a spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent.

IS­LAM­ABAD, Pak­istan — Pak­istan’s law­mak­ers have elected Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to re­place Nawaz Sharif as prime min­is­ter af­ter Sharif was ousted in a cor­rup­tion case last week, but few ex­pect Abbasi to stay in power.

Abbasi was sworn in late Tues­day. But Sharif ’s rul­ing party, which backed Abbasi, has said it wants him to serve only tem­po­rar­ily, un­til Sharif’s younger brother Shah­baz qual­i­fies — a move that could take at least 45 days, and one that op­po­nents dis­missed as un­demo­cratic.

U.S. Am­bas­sador David Hale ex­tended his con­grat­u­la­tions to Abbasi on Twit­ter.

“We look for­ward to work­ing with him to ad­vance our shared in­ter­ests in a se­cure, demo­cratic, peace­ful, and pros­per­ous Pak­istan and re­gion,” Hale tweeted.

Op­po­si­tion groups had nom­i­nated five can­di­dates for the of­fice, but Abbasi sailed past, win­ning 221 of 342 votes in the Na­tional As­sem­bly, where Sharif ’s party holds sway. Af­ter the vote, law­mak­ers chanted Sharif ’s name.

The next gen­eral elec­tion is next June.

In his tele­vised ad­dress af­ter Tues­day’s vote, the new prime min­is­ter vowed to get to work — how­ever long he stays.

“I may be here for 45 days or 45 hours, but I’m not here to keep the seat warm,” Abbasi said. “I in­tend to work and get some im­por­tant things done.”

In an emo­tional speech de­liv­ered from a lectern bear­ing a pic­ture of the ousted prime min­is­ter, Abbasi de­fended Sharif, in­sisted he was not cor­rupt and said that he was un­fairly tar­geted. He vowed to run the coun­try strictly ac­cord­ing to the con­sti­tu­tion, and said he hoped Sharif would one day re­turn to par­lia­ment.

“I am grate­ful to the peo­ple of Pak­istan, and I am grate­ful to the prime min­is­ter of the peo­ple of Pak­istan, Nawaz Sharif,” Abbasi said, adding that he would not dis­cuss last week’s court de­ci­sion that prompted Sharif to re­sign.

“There will soon be an­other court, held by the peo­ple of Pak­istan,” he said, re­fer­ring to the gen­eral elec­tion next year, and main­tain­ing that Sharif, who has been at odds with mil­i­tary lead­ers, “was pun­ished for the de­vel­op­ment of this coun­try.”

Af­ter Abbasi was sworn in, scores of Sharif’s sup­port­ers danced and chanted, hold­ing posters and pho­tos of the for­mer prime min­is­ter.

“Nawaz Sharif is my prime min­is­ter,” said Ad­nan Ali, 30. “He lives in our hearts. No­body can erase him from there. We will elect him again and again.”

Op­po­si­tion leader Nazar Gon­dal dis­missed Abbasi as lit­tle more than win­dow dress­ing, “a pup­pet in hands of Nawaz Sharif.”

“Ev­ery­body knows he will be in power for only 45 days. No­body will ac­cept his au­thor­ity,” Gon­dal said.

As­sert­ing that Sharif runs his party like a fam­ily busi­ness, Gon­dal added, “He is not ready to trust any­body but fam­ily.”

Shop owner Awais Kiyani was ready for the coun­try’s lead­ers — and the news me­dia — to move on from cor­rup­tion scan­dals to the busi­ness of gov­ern­ing and boost­ing the lag­ging econ­omy.

“I am more in­ter­ested to know whether prices de­crease or more em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties are cre­ated. If not, it does not make a dif­fer­ence whether Nawaz Sharif is prime min­is­ter or Shahid Khaqan Abbasi or some­one else,” said Kiyani, 32.

An­jum Naveed As­so­ci­ated Press

SHAHID KHAQAN ABBASI, an ally of ousted Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif, was sworn in as his suc­ces­sor, but per­haps only un­til Sharif ’s brother takes over.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.