ISLAMABAD - Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif took oath as 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan at a ceremony at Presidency on Monday night. Acting President and Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani administered the oath. President Arif Alvi had got ill and gone on few days leave on the doctor’s advice.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Nadeem Raza and Naval Chief Admiral Amjad Khan Niazi and Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed  Babar also attended the ceremony. After the ceremony, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif received greetings from guests. The PM later moved to PM Office from Ministers’ Enclave on Monday night. Those at the top of the PML-N who attended the oath-taking ceremony included Maryam Nawaz, Hamza Shehbaz and other family members of Shehbaz Sharif.

JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also attended the ceremony. Members of the national assembly belonging to PML-N, PPP, JUI-F, MQM, BAP also attended the ceremony.

Earlier, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif was elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan during the National Assembly’s crucial session on Monday. Shehbaz secured 174 votes while the rival Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate Shah Mahmood Qureshi could not get a single vote because he left the House along with party members shortly before the voting.

Member Panel of Chairpersons Ayaz Sadiq, while announcing the result, said, “Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has secured 174 votes and declared to have been elected as the Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” He said no vote was polled in the favour of the PTI candidate Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Ayaz Sadiq asked Shehbaz Sharif to take the Prime Minister’s chair in the House.

Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif was the unanimous candidate of the parliamentary parties, including PPPP, PML-N, BAP, MQM, BNP-Mengal, ANP, MMAP and independent candidates in the 341-seat House (excluding a seat that fell vacant due to demise of MNA Khayal Zaman Orakzai) for the slot of Prime Minister.

 

In another development, the PTI members except dissidents MNAs announced en-masse resignation from the national assembly and preferred to boycott the election of the leader of the house in the national assembly.

 

After being elected as Prime Minister, Mian Shehbaz Sharif while addressing the National Assembly announced several important relief measures for the inflation hit public including an increase in minimum wages, 10 percent increase in pension, availability of wheat flour under a Ramazan package etc.

With these announcements, the House echoed with the heavy sloganeering ‘Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’ by the members of the party in the House and guests sitting in the gallery. PML-N’s Vice President Maryam Nawaz, PML-N’s leader Hamza Shehbaz and Opposition leader in Senate Yousaf Raza Gilani and other senior members were also sitting in the guest galleries.

Pledges development, relief, dignity for Pakistan

Gets 174 votes as Qureshi, PTI MNAs leave NA before voting | Says in-camera session to ascertain veracity of ‘threatening letter’ | Announces Rs25,000 minimum wage from April 1; 10pc increase in pensions and 10pc raise for employees getting less than Rs100,000 per month | ‘Benazir card’ and laptops schemes will be reintroduced

Now, Punjab speed to be Pakistan speed, says Shehbaz Sharif

Let’s end poverty on both sides of the border, Shehbaz asks Modi

Declaring himself as ‘Khadim-e-Pakistan”, he said through joint efforts and unity they would turn the tides of inflation and poverty through immediate measures. Sharif, in his fifty minutes speech, announced minimum wages would be increased to Rs25,000 from April 1 and 10 percent increase in the pensions from April1. About the much-discussed letter gate conspiracy, Prime Minister assured to make arrangements for an in-camera briefing of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security to discuss and determine the authenticity of a cable that the PTI claimed contained evidence of a foreign conspiracy to topple its government.

About the country’s deteriorating economic situation, he expressed the resolve to improve the economy through hard work and national unity.  “It would be our effort to making Pakistan a ‘Paradise for investments’ by taking prudent measures,” he said.

“It was a memorable day for the whole nation, as a selected prime minister was shown the door,” he said. Shehbaz strongly denounced the PTI’s campaign against the political adversaries and said none in the House was a traitor.

He said all possible measures will be taken for the progress of smaller provinces, where the youth will be given technical education and laptops. He said it would be the preference to strengthen ties with China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, UK and Iran. About India, he expressed his intention of good ties with India conditional on the “just” resolution of the Kashmir dispute besides raising voice for Kashmiris, Palestinians and Afghanistan.

At the start of his speech, Shehbaz thanked Allah for “saving Pakistan”. For the first time in country’s history a no-confidence motion against a prime minister has been successful. “And good has prevailed over evil,” he remarked, amid desk-thumping and sloganeering.

“It was a “big day” for the entire nation when a “selected” prime minister was sent packing in a legal and constitutional manner,” he said, adding that the US dollar’s value declining by Rs8 signified the “happiness of the people”.

He also thanked the Supreme Court (SC) for burying the doctrine of necessity forever. “In the future, no one will be able to rely on it,” he said, adding that the day when the SC ruled against the dismissal of the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan by Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri should be remembered as one when the supremacy of the Constitution and parliament was established.

He said a “drama” had been going on over the past few weeks and lies were being told about a “letter”, which was said to contain evidence of a foreign conspiracy to topple the PTI government. He said the deputy speaker had waved the cable yesterday in the assembly and requested the NA secretary to show it to him (Shehbaz), who was the leader of the opposition at the time.

“But neither did I see it nor anyone showed it to me,” he said. It was a “lie, drama and fraud” he added, as he went on to clarify that there was no conspiracy linked to the ouster of former prime minister Imran Khan.

He said the PTI had been alleging that they had received the cable on March 7, a day before the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan was filed. “But I have been meeting Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on this (the vote of no-confidence) since the initial days of March.”

On March 3, the premier said Nawaz Sharif held a meeting of the PML-N’s central executive committee and PPP held a separate meeting of its own. “And we decided that we would bring a vote of no-confidence against the most corrupt, incompetent and laid back government in history,” he clarified, adding that this matter was then discussed with the Pakistan Democratic Movement and the motion was eventually filed on March 8.

About the economic condition in the country, he said there was a need of hard work and financial independence. “If we have to survive, we have to do it like an honourable and self-relying nation. We will have to opt for dialogue over deadlock and rapprochement over disagreements,” he remarked.

He said, “If we have to save the sinking boat, then we have to stay united and work hard..The situation is very bad but, God willing, it will change if we work hard.”

He said, “We will also address the high prices of electricity” and take measures for the progress of smaller provinces. “Punjab is the elder brother but not entire Pakistan. We will take smaller provinces along ourselves and move forward,” he commented. “We will give the youth of Balochistan, erstwhile Fata and other provinces technical education and skills instead of weapons.”

Shehbaz further announced that “Benazir card” would be reintroduced, which was renamed in the previous government’s tenure.

Regarding foreign policy, he said that Pakistan’s strategic partners and friends had left due to the policies of the last regime [PTI’s government]. The previous government remained silent on the Kashmir issue. He further underlined the significance of having good ties with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, European Union nations, the United Arab Emirates, Britain and Iran. Talking about relations with the United States, Shehbaz Sharif said we want relationship with Washington at equal level. He said our trade with the United States is worth billions of dollars.

With regards to India, Shehbaz said while they wanted good relations with the neighbouring, it was conditional on the “just” resolution of Kashmir issue.

“We will raise our voice for Kashmiri brother on every forum. We will give them diplomatic and moral support,” he said, adding that his advice to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to realise that there “is poverty, unemployment and diseases on both sides of the border”.

“Why do we want our coming generations to suffer.  Come, let’s resolve the Kashmir issue in line with United Nation resolutions and Kashmiris’ expectations, so that we are able to end poverty on both sides of the border.”

‘Deputy Speaker Suri sending threat letter to CJP’

At the outset of the proceedings, deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri avoiding to touch the agenda in an emotional tone attempted to clarify the house about his contentious ruling to dismiss the no-confidence motion against the former prime minister Imran Khan on April 3.

“The ruling was declared unconstitutional by the apex court…We all are obliged to respect the court. But I want to tell you the reason behind my ruling,” he said, adding that he had taken the decision “as a responsible Pakistani and deputy speaker of the NA”. About the letter gate, he informed the house that cable was discussed in the federal cabinet, a meeting of the National Security Committee and a meeting of the parliamentary committee for security.

“And it was proven that the no-confidence motion [was linked] to a foreign conspiracy,” he said, mentioning that it was decided during a cabinet meeting that the cable would be declassified and sent to then-NA speaker Asad Qaiser by the government. Holding a piece of paper, he said, “I have  the cable with him. ..It is an “open threat” which had been made to Pakistan,”.

The Deputy Speaker said that the communique was sent to Pakistan before the no-confidence motion was submitted on March 8. “Was he punished because he refused slavery?” he questioned, announced that he was sealing the cable and sending it to Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial.

Earlier, PTI’s senior member Shah Mahmood Qureshi announced en-bloc resignation of party members. “We have decided to tender resignation and prefer to stay away from the election of leader of the house,” he strongly criticized the alliance of parties against ruling party.” It is an unnatural alliance. Today, one [PTI] will win even after defeat. The PTI’s lawmakers left the house chanting slogan’ Azadi- Azadi’. While the opposition members were saying good-bye to them wearing smiles on their faces. During the voting , only two members from Grand Democratic Alliance from former government alliance were present in the house.

The house was chaired by former Speaker Ayaz Sadiq , as he conducted the voting of leader of the house. He read out the rules and procedure for the election of the prime minister and asked for the bells to ring for five minutes so that all lawmakers could come inside the halls before the voting began. In a slip of tongue, he named PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif as one of the contenders initially and quickly corrected himself, clarifying that he meant to say Shehbaz. “I apologise Shehbaz Sahab, Nawaz’s name remains in my heart,” he said, which brought smile on the faces of members present in the house.