–PTI Chairman Imran Khan bags 176 votes to become Pakistan’s 22nd Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif gets 96 as PML-N lawmakers’ protest mars session
–Imran says won’t be blackmailed by anyone; ‘Shehbaz Sharif and Maulana Fazlur Rehman welcome to stage a Dharna at D-Chowk against alleged rigging in elections’
ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan on Friday vowed “ruthless and across-the-board accountability” in the country, as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman was elected as Pakistan’s 22nd prime minister on Friday, marking the pinnacle of his 22-year-long political career.
Khan clinched victory with 176 votes while his opponent, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif secured 96 votes in the polling that took place in the National Assembly. The former cricketer needed a simple majority of 172 in the 342-seat National Assembly to take power.
His oath-taking ceremony will take place on Saturday.
‘NO DACOIT WILL BE GIVEN NRO’:
“No dacoit will be given any NRO,” Imran said in the speech following his election as Leader of the House that was marred by sloganeering by lawmakers belonging to the opposition PML-N and its allies.
Imran was referring to the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a controversial law introduced by former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf to drop corruption charges against dozens of politicians.
“We will not spare those who have looted the nation,” Imran said. “Nobody had been able to blackmail me in the past, and nobody can do so now,” he added while referring to the threat of PML-N and its allies to launch street agitation.
The PM-elect said PML-N chief Shehbaz Sharif and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman could stage a Dharna (protest sit-in) at D-Chowk, where the PTI had staged a marathon protest in 2014.
“Yell as loud as you can. If you want to stage a sit-in, I’ll provide you the container. I spent 126 days there [D-Chowk],” said Imran amid vociferous sloganeering of the opposition members.
“We will also provide you with containers and free food and drinks,” he quipped, adding that “we [government] will cooperate with you [PML-N] even if you want to take your complaints to the Supreme Court.”
‘WILL ANSWER TO PEOPLE TWICE EVERY MONTH’:
“I did not climb on any dictator’s shoulders; I reached this place after struggling for 22 years. Only one leader struggled more than me, and that was my hero, Jinnah. Twice every month I will answer to the people during the question-answer session in the assembly.”
“The money that was laundered, I will bring it back — the money that should have gone towards health, education, and clean drinking water, went into people’s pockets,” said a charged Khan.
“I want to ask the people who are yelling here why they didn’t investigate the four constituencies that I asked for.
“Why didn’t they investigate then? Why didn’t they hold people accountable? Why didn’t the [PML-N] government take action?”
“When I was asking for investigation, these people accused me of being a planted by the establishment,” Khan continued.
RUCKUS IN THE HOUSE:
Earlier, as the newly elected speaker of the assembly, Asad Qaiser, announced the results, the House erupted with chants of “na manzoor” [unacceptable] and “Wazir-i-azam Nawaz Sharif” [PM Nawaz Sharif]. The protests by PML-N leaders continued nearly all the way through the session despite the speaker’s attempts at restoring order in the House.
Khan, in the meantime, sat smiling in his seat, accepting congratulations from his party members.
The speaker had suspended the proceedings of the National Assembly for 15 minutes after the crucial announcement due to the persistent sloganeering of PML-N legislators. Announcing the suspension of proceedings, NA Speaker Qaiser asked parliamentary leaders to come to his chamber.
When the session resumed, the speaker asked the PM-elect to address the House as protests by PML-N and cheering by PTI lawmakers continued.
‘WE WILL HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE’:
After Imran’s speech, a visibly disconcerted Shehbaz Sharif took the microphone, focusing primarily on the allegations of rigging in the July 25 polls.
“Throughout the world, newspapers and outlets are raising accusations of rigging in the general elections,” he said.
“This is the worst election in history in terms of rigging; the authorities must act against those responsible.”
“What kind of election was this?” he questioned amidst loud chants echoing across the hall.
“The Result Transmission System (RTS) [on the night of July 25] was forcefully shut down. What kind of elections were these that the results were delayed for 48 hours?”
Alleging that 1.6 million votes were rejected, he questioned the discovery of ballot papers from gutters and streets across the country.
The former Punjab chief minister urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to “submit a report before this House” adding that “the clauses that need amendment in the Election Act 2017 must be amended so no one can rob the vote of its sanctity”.
He threatened that opposition parties would “take to the streets” if a commission was not formed and justice not served.
Reminding the PM-elect of a promise he had made in his first address to the nation after the July 25 polls, Shehbaz Sharif said: “Khan sahab, you had said that if rigging in 2013 elections would be proven, Nawaz Sharif’s government should resign. We will not let you run from this. We will hold you accountable for stealing votes.”
Clarifying the party’s stance and objectives, he said: “We came here for the sake of democracy and to protect the democratic system. There have been movements in the past and we have always stood by this House.”
On his future strategy, he said, “We won’t attack parliament. We won’t disturb the visits of foreign dignitaries to Pakistan. We won’t curse the parliament. We won’t force the Supreme Court judges to change their route.”
The PML-N president said that his brother Nawaz Sharif was being targetted for carrying out nuclear tests where he rejected $5 billion offer from the United States.
He said that the Nawaz promised to resign if rigging was proved in the judicial commission. “Can you (Imran Khan) promise the same?” he asked.
Shehbaz refused to conclude his speech “in protest” after being silenced by the speaker so that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari could also address the House.
‘BILAWAL SHINES IN MAIDEN SPEECH’:
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, in his first address to the National Assembly, delivered a measured and mature speech in English.
Although he said it was his “honour to become a part of this house”, the 29-year-old criticised the “two biggest parties for creating a ruckus” in the parliament.
In his speech, Bilawal smartly recalled all the promises made by the PTI government-to-be.
While recalling the 10 million jobs and five million housing units in PTI’s manifesto, the PPP chief said he was anticipating how the newly-elected prime minister would implement his 100-day plan.
“I would like to ask Khan sahab ─ who said that he would rather commit suicide than go to the IMF and beg for alms ─ what his plan will be to deal with the economic crisis.”
Bilawal hoped that Imran Khan, being the prime minister of the country, would fulfil his promises and “refrain from promoting a culture of intolerance anymore”.
“As prime minister, I hope Imran Khan will drop the hateful rhetoric. If he continues to fan the flames of hatred, he will have to go through us and he will find us opposing him at every step of the way,” he vowed.
“People are looking at Imran Khan to resolve the issues of the country. Imran is not a party chairman anymore… he is the leader of Pakistan now,” said Bilawal, urging Khan to be the prime minister not only of his admirers but also of the “donkeys, sheep and those he cursed in his statements”.
Bilawal specifically mentioned the complaints of “unprecedented rigging”, including the failure of result transmission system (RTS) and irregularities in Form-45.
He claimed that rigging took place before and after the elections, adding that across Pakistan polling agents were expelled from the polling stations.
“If it weren’t for us Mr Speaker, you wouldn’t have your seat and the PM would not have his,” he added.
“We would have been facing a constitutional crisis and we must assess what it cost for Khan sahab to get here. We mainstreamed extremism, we compromised on our basic rights, we pitted one Pakistani against another,” he continued.
Moreover, Bilawal suggested that an investigation be carried out into the attacks in Peshawar, Mastung and Quetta ahead of the July 25 polls.
“It is hurtful that Pakistan, which has sacrificed so much in the fight against violent extremism, is seen as a part of the problem and not as part of the solution,” he went on.
“I am sure the new government will take the [necessary] steps. However Khan sahab got here, Mr Speaker, he is now the prime minister of this worthy nation.”
“If the prime minister-elect makes constitutional supremacy and human development his priorities, we will stand by his side,” he added.
“I congratulate the prime minister-select,” he concluded, with his use of the word “select” possibly referring to allegations of poll engineering.
Following Bilawal’s speech PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi also addressed the newly formed parliament.
He accused the PML-N of breaking the agreement that the opposition and the ruling parties had made to allow Khan to deliver his full speech.
“Every party stood by its word except the PML-N,” Qureshi said. “Of course why would they? The session was being broadcast live so there was a photo opportunity.
“Imran Khan wanted to say that ‘I will present myself in front of the nation’. He wanted to invite everyone to sit together but sadly you did not have the courage to listen to him.”
Qureshi then struck a conciliatory tone and asked the opposition to “play the role of a constructive opposition.
“Let’s change our behaviour towards each other. We will try to incorporate your criticism in our policies. We must also have the courage to listen to criticism.”
“We are aware of the challenges that the country is facing. We will solve them together.”