Process for election of new prime minister kicks off


Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Sh Rasheed get nomination papers for election * Khursheed Shah summons meeting of opposition parties to devise joint stratege

The parliament will meet on Tuesday (tomorrow) to elect a new prime minister after the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif following an investigation into corruption allegations against his family.

The ruling party named Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz as his successor over the weekend, but he must first enter parliament by contesting the seat left vacant by Sharif.

In the meantime the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which enjoys a majority in parliament, has nominated ex-oil minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim prime minister.

The top court ousted Sharif Friday after an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family, bringing his historic third term in power to an unceremonious end and briefly plunging the nuclear-armed nation into political instability.

“The nomination papers – shall be delivered to the Secretary, National Assembly by 2.00 pm, on Monday,” said a notification by the National Assembly Secretariat.

It said the assembly would meet at 3:00 pm Tuesday to elect a prime minister. Abbasi is set to be rubber-stamped as placeholder in the parliamentary vote.

The candidates for the office of the prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, who is backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, got nomination papers while Syed Khurshid Shah, opposition leader in the National Assembly, has also obtained six copies of nomination papers.

As per schedule announced by NA Secretariat, nomination papers have to be submitted back to the assembly secretariat by 2pm on Monday (today). National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq will then scrutinize the papers at 3pm the same day, following which the assembly will meet to elect the leader of the House on Tuesday (tomorrow).

A meeting of all opposition parties in the parliament has also been called by Syed Khurshid Shah in his chamber today to devise a joint strategy for the election of the prime minister.

The PML-N holds a majority with 188 seats in the 342-member parliament, so it should be able to swiftly install its choice, barring any defections from its own ranks.

Abbasi and Shahbaz will have to hit the ground running to tackle Pakistan’s worsening ties with the United States, frayed relations with India, and persistent attacks by militants including the Pakistani Taliban and Islamic State.

They will also need to boost economic growth above the current rate of 5.3 percent to find employment for millions of young people entering the job market every year in a nation of nearly 200 million people.

Economists say this will prove tricky at a time when the current account deficit is ballooning and an overvalued currency is hurting exports.