Pakistan elects new prime minister after Imran’s ouster in no-trust vote

Islamabad, Apr 11 (EFE).- Pakistan parliament Monday voted in Shahbaz Sharif as the new prime minister in a session boycotted by lawmakers loyal to ousted premier Imran Khan, capping a week of political tension in the nuclear-powered South Asian country.

Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was elected with 174 votes after lawmakers from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party walked out in protest against the ouster that they blamed on a United States-backed conspiracy.

He secured two votes more than needed for a majority in the 342-member house.

“It is the victory of good and the defeat of evil. Today is the great day in the history of Pakistan,” Sharif said in his first address to the house as the prime minister-elect.

Sharif, the former chief minister of Punjab province and younger brother of three-time ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, is set to serve as the 23rd prime minister of Pakistan until the next general election due in 2023.

He will take oath later in the evening.

He comes from a wealthy and influential family of industrialists with deep political influences.

However, the family faces corruption cases. A court sentenced his elder brother, Nawaz Sharif, to 10 years in prison over graft charges in 2018, a year after the Supreme Court removed him from power.

The younger Sharif replaces the government of Khan that was voted out in a no-confidence motion over allegations of poor governance and mounting economic crisis.

Sharif briefly spoke about an alleged note from a Pakistani diplomat in the US which indicated that the no-confidence motion against Khan’s government was part of an American conspiracy.

The newly elected prime minister said Khan had lied bout the note.

He said an in-camera briefing would be held for the parliamentary security panel in which service chiefs, the head of military intelligence ISI, and the diplomat would be present.

“If an iota of foreign conspiracy is proven, I will resign in a second and go home,” Sharif vowed.

For weeks before coming to power, he led the campaign for Khan’s ouster, alleging that he had brought the country to its knees with his economic mismanagement and poor governance.

He joined hands with his former political bete noires and allied for a no-confidence motion against Khan and election of the new government.

It triggered a deep political tension in the country of 220 million people, mostly Muslims.

Khan claimed that the opposition was gunning for him for a regime change backed by Washington after he visited Moscow and met President Vladimir Putin during a pre-scheduled trip on the day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Washington has denied that it had any role to play in Pakistan’s political turmoil.

Lawmakers loyal to Khan walked out of the parliament and announced resignations as the house elected Sharif.

“We won’t legitimize a government which is brought by foreign intervention. We are boycotting and announcing our resignation from (the National Assembly),” former foreign minister and senior PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the house.

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