Maryam Nawaz takes oath as first woman chief minister of Pakistan

LAHORE: PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz was sworn in as the Punjab chief minister at the Governor House on Monday, shortly after she secured a comfortable lead over PTI-nominated Rana Aftab in the Punjab Assembly to become the first woman chief minister of the province.

The PML-N leader swept the contest after securing 220 votes while the PTI-designate secured none as his party had boycotted the election.

Maryam was administered the oath by Governor Punjab Baligh-ur-Rehman, with her father Nawaz Sharif, and uncle Shehbaz Sharif watching from the stage. Her son Junaid, Shehbaz’s son Hamza and senior PML-N leader Ishaq Dar also attended the ceremony.

In her maiden speech at the Punjab Assembly, Maryam thanked God and her supporters for the win and took a conciliatory tone towards the opposition. “I want to give a message to the opposition: the doors of my chamber and heart will always remain open for them as they are for my party members.”

“Today, I am upset that the respectable members of the opposition benches are not present here. I wish they would be a part of the political and democratic process,” said the newly-elected chief minister.

“If the opposition was present today, and if they had protested during my speech, I would have been happy.”

She also asserted that she had no desire for revenge from her political opponents and maintained that her government will work for those who voted for her as well as those who did not.

“From the day I was nominated as Punjab CM, Nawaz Sharif chalked out a five-year plan for the province and gave me valuable advice every day,” said Maryam.

“I want to take this moment and tell the youth that you should respect your parents because the prayer of our parents takes us to the position where we never envisioned to be,” the PML-N leader added.

Outlining the objectives for her provincial government, the Sharif scion maintained the provision of employment, education and healthcare remain key to the PML-N’s vision for Punjab and added that free medicine would be available in all provincial hospitals.

In her victory speech, Maryam also said the vision was to turn Punjab into an ‘economic hub’.

Maryam was contesting against Rana Aftab, whom the PTI selected for the coveted role after its initial nominee, Mian Aslam, faced threats of arrest.

Shortly after the session started, Sunni Ittehad Council members comprising PTI-backed MPAs walked out of the assembly. The 103 lawmakers of the party walked out in protest after the PTI nominee for the chief minister slot was not given a chance to speak at the point of order.

On Sunday, the legislature’s speaker, Malik Ahmed Khan, deemed the nomination papers submitted by Maryam and Aftab as valid after scrutiny. He subsequently announced an election for the Punjab chief minister’s post during Monday’s assembly session.

The PTI named Rana Aftab as its new candidate for Punjab chief minister following attempts by Punjab Police to arrest its previous nominee, Mian Aslam.

PTI Secretary General Hammad Azhar wrote on X that Mian Aslam had been nominated by the party’s founder, Imran Khan, but due to the Punjab Police’s presence to arrest him, the leadership altered its plan. He stated that PTI, in consultation with Mian Aslam, nominated Rana Aftab as the new candidate.

Azhar detailed Rana Aftab’s background, stating he has been elected to the Punjab Assembly five times. He claimed the party has the support of 212 MPAs, while PML-N only has 40 “true members” according to Form 45.

Describing the PML-N as a “democracy raider,” Azhar alleged that the rest of its members in the assembly were the result of “rejected February 9 forgeries.”

In response, PML-N central spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb claimed the PTI’s change in the nominee for Punjab chief minister was its first “U-turn”. She stated that after her election, Maryam would announce a development roadmap and measures for women’s uplift.

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