Islamabad/LAHORE - The two biggest parties – PTI and PML-N – yesterday officially named Imran Khan and Shehbaz Sharif as their respective parliamentary leader and nominees for the prime minister slot, though it is almost a decided matter that Khan will be elected the chief executive of the country.
PTI chairman, who came out from his Bani Gala residence in a long convoy of vehicles for the first time after his party’s victory, was nominated by party’s parliamentary party at a hotel in Islamabad.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly in the July 25 elections.
PTI vice-president Shah Mehmood Qureshi tabled the resolution to this effect and it was unanimously approved by the parliamentary party, comprising PTI’s senators and all its newly-elected members of the National Assembly.
Soon after Qureshi moved the resolution, all the members of the parliamentary party gave a standing ovation to the party chief amid applause and congratulated him over his nomination.
Addressing the parliamentary body following the formal confirmation of his nomination, Imran said the nation had defeated political status-quo by rejecting two-party system prevailing since the 1970s.
He said that it was rare that the people would give the opportunity to a third political force in the two-party system —a reference towards the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’ Party (PPP).
“People have voted for a change and have given their decision,” the PM-in-waiting said, adding that now the time had come to fulfil the promises made to the masses.
He warned his fellow party leaders that they must not govern the traditional way as the masses no longer believed in conventional politics. PTI would meet the fate of MMA and ANP if it failed to bring about the promised change, he added.
“The people do not expect us to govern the traditional way; we are viewed as different. If we do traditional politics then we would also fall prey to the public wrath.”
“Today, I have been given the biggest of responsibilities,” he said. “Today, the first phase of a 22-year-long struggle is complete. Today, God has given you a moral victory.
But he warned that “there are challenges aplenty for the PTI government.” Rekindling the hope for a better future, he said, “Our struggle will create the future of Pakistan.”
He added that the next government’s prime responsibility was to pull the country out of the economic crisis. “First six months of the PTI’s government are very important,” he said.
The cricketer-turned-politician vowed to lead by example. “I will make decision on merit and in the national interest, and will never ask you to do something that I wouldn’t myself.”
He also said he will be holding weekly question and answer sessions as practiced by the British prime ministers. He also promised to make his ministers accountable in the real sense.
“One hour every week I will give answers to the public — like it happens in England. We will also make the ministers answerable to the public in the truest sense.”
He also criticised the protocol given to him by the local authorities and said that the country could not be run in this way.
About the formation of opposition alliance, Khan said that opposition had no morality to stand on.
No discussion on cabinet, speaker: Qureshi
Contrary to some media reports, the parliamentary party did not discuss the formation of the next cabinet.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in his media talk after the meeting also categorically denied the parliamentary party nominated him for the slot of Speaker or Imran Ismail as the next Governor Sindh. He said that there had not been any discussions on the speaker’s candidates or for any other cabinet slots.
He said that 225 people participated in the parliamentary party meeting. He also claimed that with the support of their allies and independents they had reached the number needed to form simply majority in the national assembly.
“The party at whom people used to laugh has today become the largest parliamentary party,” he said. “PTI’s representation is not restricted to the centre but we have presence in all four provinces,” he added.
Qureshi said Imran Khan in his speech has told that what kind of austerity measures the PTI-led government would adopt. “Imran Khan told us how we would protect the taxpayers’ money and collect taxes,” he said adding the party chief also apprised the meeting about foreign policy challenges.
About the grand opposition alliance, PTI vice chairman said that the parties of that alliance had nothing in common. “The fear of losing status quo is united them together. The alliance is unnatural and temporary. We do not expect it to stand for long.”
He appealed to outgoing Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq not to make Speaker House arena of activities of opposition as this was against parliamentary traditions.
Responding to the war of words between PTI Sindh chapter and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), he asserted that the MQM-P had dissociated itself with its founder Altaf Hussain hence PTI decided to partner with them to uplift and develop Karachi.
On the talks between Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), the PTI vice-president said the party was deliberating over six points put forward by Sardar Mengal.
Punjab CM race: Responding to a question whether he was contesting a by-election on provincial assembly seat of Punjab to become the next Punjab CM, Qureshi did not deny the possibility saying that whatever Imran Khan would decide it would be acceptable for him. Thus he gave an indication that he was still in the race of CM Punjab.
Required numbers achieved: Fawad
Though the move of Khan’ nomination was mere symbolic, it is aimed at meeting the challenge to ensure presence of all members of the parliamentary party, but it apparently failed to do so.
PTI Secretary Information Fawad Chaudhry told reporters after the meeting that around 110 members-elect of the National Assembly, including women members-elect on reserved seats and those members-elect on minorities seats ensured their presence in the meeting.
He said that PTI’s total strength in the National Assembly would be around 149 members after the members of the party who won on more than one seats would vacate their seats.
The 149 tally also includes those independent members-elect who have joined PTI recently. Besides this, four PTI senators also attended the parliamentary party meeting.
Fawad Chaudhry claimed that PTI now has the backing of 174 MNAs for the election of prime minister.
He said that PTI had its own 116 members-elect of the NA and after getting nine independents and reserved seats on women and minorities’ seats, PTI will get 149 seats. He said that PTI would reach this figure after vacating seven seats by its MNAs who have won more than one seats.
After the inclusion of seven seats of MQM, 4 of PML-Q and other smaller partners, we have got the support of 174 MNAs. He said that Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) had yet to decide about joining them. The four remaining independent members-elect have also ensured to vote for us, so the total tally will reach around 180 members, he claimed.
The PML-N Central Executive Committee also met on Tuesday and named the party president and former chief minister, Shehbaz Sharif, as the candidate for the prime minister office in the coming election.
The meeting, held at Model Town Secretariat of the party with Shehbaz Sharif in the chair, also decided to take an active part in the protest organised by the joint opposition against ‘rigging’ on August 8 before the Election Commission office in Islamabad.
The decisions taken at a meeting of Pakistan Alliance for Free and Fair Elections of the joint opposition in Islamabad were also put before the CEC. The alliance had offered the PML-N to field its candidate for the PM slot on which it took the decision.
The PML-N which bagged 64 general seats in the last elections is being supported by PPP having 43 seats, MMA 12 seats and ANP one seat, but seemingly it has failed to meet the required strength to command the majority in the house for the prime minister’s slot.
The party spokesperson, Marriyum Aurangzeb, briefing the media on the committee decisions, said Shehbaz Sharif will be the candidate for the prime minister office against PTI Chairman Imran Khan. She said the party is in contact with others to secure the PM slot in the election. However, she accused the PTI of purchasing loyalties of the members-elect and alleged open horse trading has been going on and the PML-N does not like to be involved in this exercise.
Speaking very aggressively against the Election Commission of Pakistan and PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Marriyum said the party has rejected the rigged elections and Shehbaz Sharif has passed direction to prepare and release a detailed white paper on the rigging, manipulations and irregularities in the election at the earliest. She said the party will raise its voice at every platform. All ticket holders of the party, she said, have been strictly instructed to reach the Election Commission on August 8 when a forceful protest will be launched by the party as part of the joint opposition. She also grilled Imran Khan, terming him ‘self-styled’ prime minister of a ‘rigged mandate’ and said they will not stop staging protest against the election rigging. She said forms 45 of the election results from many constituencies are still not available to them, which is a glaring example how poorly the elections have been conducted.
Marriyum termed the appeal by Imran Khan against the LHC permission granted to Saad Rafiq for complete vote recount in NA-131 another U-turn of Iman Khan after he had made an open offer for recount in any constituency in his July 26 address.
The party sources said the CEC also considered the name of Hamza Shehbaz Sharif as the party candidate for the Punjab chief minister’s office and majority opinion was also in his favour for nominating him as leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly in case he lost the CM election.
The PML-N, despite winning maximum 129 seats of the Punjab Assembly against 123 of the PTI, is short of required number as 25 of the total 29 independent MPAs have joined the Tehreek-e-Insaf which claims to have mustered support of more than 185 seats with the help of PML-Q.
The PML-N is not more upbeat about capturing the CM slot, given the party position. This point is substantiated by the fact that Khawaja Asif did not talk about it to the media outside the Model Town Secretariat while Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan did not name anybody when a journalist asked him to mention the MPAs-elect who are in touch with the party. Rana Sanaullah also could not clear the dust over the number game for winning the top seat in the Punjab.
Talking to the media after the meeting, former minister Ahsan Iqbal said the meeting also considered the names for speaker and deputy speaker in the Punjab Assembly. He accused the PTI of using cheap tactics to win support of the members for forming government. He said the kind of rigging and horse trading that has been carried out to make Imran Khan prime minister finds no precedent in the history of the country. Ahsan also criticised Imran for allying with MQM.
Meanwhile, independently elected MPA from PP-39, Sialkot, Rana Liaqat, joined PML-N. He announced this decision during a meeting with PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif. Khawaja Muhammad Asif was also present on the occasion.
PTI names Imran for PM position
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