8.01.2017

Pakistani parliament elects Abbasi as new PM | Pakistan News

Pakistan’s parliament has elected Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the country’s new prime minister, after a Supreme Court decision last week disqualified Nawaz Sharif, his predecessor, over allegations he lied on a wealth declaration.

Abbasi, who belongs to the ruling PML-N party, was elected after a vote by members of the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, in Islamabad on Tuesday.

The ruling PML-N holds a comfortable majority in the lower house, and Abbasi’s election was considered a foregone conclusion ahead of the vote. Several smaller parties also supported Abbasi’s election in the vote, results showed.

Abbasi was due to be sworn in on Tuesday evening, and would then constitute his cabinet, which is largely expected to be almost identical to Sharif’s own outgoing cabinet.

READ MORE: Pakistan’s democracy reels from Nawaz Sharif’s removal

The election was necessitated by the dismissal on Friday of Nawaz Sharif, a three-time prime minister who was disqualified from holding public office over allegations that he lied on a parliamentary wealth declaration form when running for office in 2013.

Abbasi will hold the post for roughly two months, while Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz runs in a by-election to take over from him, Nawaz announced after a party meeting on Saturday.  

In a unanimous landmark ruling, the Supreme Court declared that Nawaz Sharif could no longer hold public office, and referred him, three of his children and several associates to a lower court to be tried on corruption charges.

On Monday, the National Accountability Bureau, Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog, said that it would be filing cases against Nawaz Sharif; his children Hasan, Hussain and Maryam; and Sharif’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

The cases relate to the acquisition of four apartments in London’s posh Park Lane district by the Sharifs, the operations of two steel mills in Saudi Arabia, and 16 other Sharif-owned companies in the United Kingdom, said a statement.

READ MORE: What’s next for Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif?

Abbasi, 58, a long-time loyalist of the Sharifs’ PML-N party, and previously served as the elder Sharif’s petroleum minister in the current government.

The political opposition, however, has slammed his nomination for the post, arguing that he is facing his own corruption allegations in a National Accountability court related to alleged misconduct in the awarding of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) contracts amounting to about $2 billion in 2015.

Shehbaz, Nawaz’s political heir, is expected to run for the NA-120 seat in Lahore vacated by his brother in the coming days.

That election, too, is widely expected to go ahead, as it is occurring in the Sharif’s stronghold of Lahore, the capital of the same Punjab province of which the younger Sharif has been chief minister for the last nine years.

Opposition to Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination for the position, however, has been growing in recent days, with the political opposition and some analysts accusing the PML-N party of nepotism at the cost of putting the country first.

“In the 70th year of the country’s existence, the party that usurped the name of the party of Mohammad Ali Jinnah is a nepotistic disgrace,” read the editorial in Dawn, Pakistan’s most widely read English language newspaper, on Tuesday.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s Web Correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim

Source: Al Jazeera News

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