Friday June 21, 2024

Shehbaz Sharif elected PM, unveils relief package

Shehbaz said he would resign if an inquiry proves that there was an international conspiracy behind the no-trust move against former PM Imran Khan

By Asim Yasin & Muhammad Anis & Mumtaz Alvi
April 12, 2022
Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani administering oath to Shehbaz Sharif as the Prime Minister of Pakistan at the President House on April 11, 2022. -- Photo: PID
Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani administering oath to Shehbaz Sharif as the Prime Minister of Pakistan at the President House on April 11, 2022. -- Photo: PID

ISLAMABAD: Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, soon after his election as the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan, announced various relief measures, including fixation of minimum wages at Rs25,000, subsidised wheat flour and 10 per cent raise in pensions as well as salaries of the government employees getting less than one lakh monthly salaries, with an immediate effect.

He declared he would resign from his post if it was proven after an inquiry that there was an international conspiracy behind the no-confidence resolution against former prime minister Imran Khan, and foreign resources were acquired for the purpose.

“Even if there is an iota of evidence to prove it in the National Security Committee meetingthat there was any conspiracy, I will not take more than a second to resign as the prime minister,” Shehbaz said.

He announced increasing minimum monthly wages from Rs21,000 to Rs25,000 per month from April 1, 2022. He also announced establishing economy on strong footing, reviving the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and expanding it by linking it with the education, provision of flour on subsidised rates under the Ramazan package and restarting distribution of laptops among the talented students.

He said the Parliamentary Committee on National Security would hold in-camera session on the sensitive issue without any delay, saying the civil leadership, members of committee, services chiefs, Director General ISI and the ambassador, who wrote the ‘letter’, would attend the session. “I will call in-camera session of Parliament’s Committee on National Security so that facts can be brought forth,” he added.

Shehbaz said neither there was, nor is there any traitor in the country. He announced following the policy of dialogue, consultation and consultation to take the country forward. “We will follow the policy of dialogue, and not deadlock, and reconciliation and not division, and healing wounds of people if we are to move forward,” he added.

Shehbaz said Pakistan desired peaceful and good relations with India, but added that there could be no durable peace till solution to the Kashmir issue. He offered India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi dialogue to solve the Kashmir issue according to the United Nations resolutions and the aspirations of Kashmiris. “We will continue to raise voice for our Kashmiri brothers and sisters at every forum,” the PM said.

He said that Prime Minister Modi should understand that there was poverty, unemployment and diseases in both countries and people did not get medicines. “Do you want that we should continue to destroy ourselves and our coming generations,” he questioned.

Referring to foreign policy, he said relations would be further strengthened China are time tested as Beijing has always supported Pakistan in the hour of need. He said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) mega project would be implemented at "Pakistan Speed”.

The PM said Saudi Arabia was Pakistan’s brotherly Islamic country that had always extended cooperation in difficult times. He said Afghanistan was neighbouring country facing difficult times. He said the government would raise voice for assistance of the people of Afghanistan.

Shehbaz said the European Union was the biggest destination of Pakistani textile exports as 50 per cent of Pakistan's textile goods go to the European countries. He expressed the confidence that GSP Plus status for Pakistan would be renewed. He said the United Kingdom has always backed democracy in Pakistan, and he would try his best to further strengthen Pakistan's relations with the UK.

About relations with the United States, Shehbaz said they wanted relationship with Washington at equality basis, adding that trade with the US was worth billions of dollars. He said change could not be brought only through making. “Pakistan should have become a developed country if merely making claims could have brought a change,” he said.

The PM said people had been suffering a lot due to high inflation and unemployment. During the last government, he said, six million people became unemployed and 20 million were pushed below the poverty line. He said the total debt of Pakistan was Rs25,000 billion till 2018, but during the last three-and-a-half years, Rs20,000 billion were added to the total debt. He said as "Khadim-e-Pakistan," he would do his best to bring the country out of crises and would take all provinces along in his efforts for progress of the country.

Earlier, the National Assembly Monday elected Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif as the 23rd prime minister of Pakistan, as MNAs of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) boycotted the election process and announced tendering their resignations.

As the combined opposition’s candidate, Shehbaz secured 174 votes in absence of the PTI parliamentarians. The no-confidence resolution against Imran Khan was also passed with 174 votes.

Later in the Monday evening, Shehbaz Sharif took oath as the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan at a ceremony held at Aiwan-e-Sadr here. Sadiq Sanjrani, acting president and the Senate chairman, administered oath to the newly elected prime minister after President Arif Alvi proceeded on leave for health reasons.

The ceremony was attended by parliamentarians, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Nadeem Raza, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmad Babar Sidhu, and senior officials.

Leaders of political parties including Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Hamza Shehbaz, Maryam Nawaz, Aleem Khan, Raja Zafarul Haq, Khwaja Saad Rafiq, Yusuf Raza Gilani, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Akhtar Mengal, Mohsin Dawar, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Ahsan Iqbal, and senior officers attended the ceremony.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expresses best wishes for Shehbaz Sharif for being elected as the prime minister. He said there were enormous challenges ahead for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his government. He said our commitment had been fulfilled. “We democratically removed selected prime minister and onwards to electoral reforms, restoration of democracy and prosperity for all.

During the National Assembly proceedings, the PTI members chanted slogans ‘We want freedom’ and left the House after the former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced they were going to resign from the National Assembly.

After election, Shehbaz Sharif was invited to occupy the seat of the Leader of the House, while Asif Ali Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Maulana Asad Mahmood were also sitting next to him in the front row.

A large number of political leaders including Maryam Nawaz, Captain Safdar, Hamza Shehbaz, Aseefa Bhutto, former parliamentarians and senators were present in the visitors’ galleries.

In the start of the session, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while taking the floor, said that in line with party’s unanimous decision, they had decided not to take part in the “illegal actions”. “We aspire for an independent Pakistan and we announce resignations from the assembly,” Qureshi said and then left the House along with his party colleagues.

Referring to Sunday night’s protests staged by the PTI supporters in various cities, both in Pakistan and abroad, he said that people took to the streets on Imran Khan’s call which showed that today some people would lose despite winning in the assembly.

“Imran Khan taught the nation how to live an independent life,” he said, adding that despite being a graduate of Oxford University, he promoted the national language and national dress of Pakistan on all occasions.

Meanwhile, Asad Qaisar, who had already resigned as speaker of the National Assembly, also signed his resignation as an MNA from NA-18 Swabi.

Separately, PTI Chairman and ex-premier Imran Khan termed election of Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister an insult to the nation. The PTI released a video on Monday in which Imran Khan can be heard saying whoever elects Shehbaz Sharif, cannot be a bigger insult to the country. Imran Khan told the media persons, "The man who has 16 billion and 8 billion rupees of corruption cases, whoever selects and elects a prime minister like this, cannot be a bigger insult to the country. We are resigning from the National Assembly."

He demanded immediate elections in the country, and refused to accept Shehbaz as the prime minister. "We are demanding immediate elections as that is the only way forward — to let the people decide, through fair and free elections, whom they want as their prime minister," the PTI chairman said.

He also announced that on Wednesday, he will be holding a rally in Peshawar after Isha prayers — his first jalsa after being removed through the no-confidence resolution. "I want all our people to come, as Pakistan was created as an independent, sovereign state, not as a puppet state of foreign powers," the ex-prime minister said.

Imran Khan vowed to form new government this year, bagging a two-thirds majority in general election and never to form a coalition government in future. He presided over the PTI’s political committee here, which reviewed the latest political situation and formally decided to step up mass contact movement and holding public meetings in various cities in the days and weeks to come. He made it clear that they had to form a government with allies, and got blackmailed and hence were not able to freely work for the people and the country.

Meanwhile, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and some other party members tendered resignations as MNAs minutes before the election of the new prime minister. The decision in this regard was taken in the party's parliamentary meeting, which was chaired by Imran Khan at the Parliament House. It was learnt that around 100 party members attended the meeting. It is to be seen when the entire PTI legislators formally quit their membership of the National Assembly, given their difference of opinion on this move.

However, at the end, it was learnt that the party lawmakers mandated PTI chairman to take whatever decision he likes and they would comply with it. Previously PTI also opted for this move back in 2014 but it could not be materialised. According to the National Assembly website, PTI has 121 members on general seats and 28 members on reserved seats. One PTI MNA Khayal Zaman passed away a few months back and bye-poll in his constituency is due.

The PTI had filed reference against its 20 dissident MNAs and apparently, they are not willing to quit the National Assembly. Therefore, excluding these dissidents, PTI still has at least 129 MNAs on its side.

Imran Khan tendered resignation and the text reads, “I, Imran Khan S/o of Ikramullah Khan Niazi, Constituency NA-95, Mianwali-I, am a member of the National Assembly from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf parliamentary party. I, hereby, tender my resignation as member of NA and request the Speaker to please accept my resignation. Pakistan Zindabad”. It is posted on PTI official twitter account as well.