PRESIDENT Arif Alvi administers the oath to newly sworn-in Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the President House, on Monday.—White Star
PRESIDENT Arif Alvi administers the oath to newly sworn-in Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the President House, on Monday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD / PESHA­WAR: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was administered oath to the coveted office of the country’s chief executive by President Arif Alvi in a ceremony at the President House, in which KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Ganda­pur was conspicuous by his absence amid allegations of election rigging by his party, the PTI.

Soon after assuming charge of his office, PM Shehbaz chaired a meeting on matters related to the economy and ordered talks with the IMF for an extended facility. He was briefed by the finance secretary on the occasion. He also ordered tax refunds worth Rs65 billion.

As the younger Sharif was sworn in to his second term on Monday, the ceremony was witnessed by the caretaker PM and ministers, CMs, governors, chairman of joint chiefs of staff and diplomats.

In addition to the state and foreign envoys, political leaders, including PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zar­dari, were also present.

After taking oath, Shehbaz Sharif arrived at the PM House where he was presented a guard of honour, followed by the introduction with the PM House staffers. Caretaker PM Anwarul Haq Kakar was also presented with a farewell guard of honour.

Oath-taking amid protests

The oath-taking cerem­ony was held amid protests by the PTI and other opposition parties, including former PML-N ally JUI-F, which claimed that the election results were manipulated to favour the PML-N and other ruling parties.

Since the start of the National Assembly session last week, the PTI-backed lawmakers, who joined the Sunni Ittehand Council (SIC) have been protesting and disrupting the house proceedings. They are claiming that the lower house of parliament was ‘incomplete’ without the reserved seats of the SIC and all proceedings were “illegal”.

Against the backdrop of this protest, PTI leader Ali Amin Gandapur, who was elected to the KP CM post, skipped the oath-taking ceremony and instead attended the provincial assembly session.

CM Gandapur told reporters on the premises of the KP Assembly that he did not think it was appropriate to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the premier. “It is still not clear whether the prime minister has been elected by the people or by the returning officers,” he said in a reference to alleged discrepencies in Forms-45 and Forms-47.

 PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari shakes hands with PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, as Maryam Nawaz Sharif looks on during the oath-taking ceremony at the Presidency in Islamabad.—White Star
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari shakes hands with PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, as Maryam Nawaz Sharif looks on during the oath-taking ceremony at the Presidency in Islamabad.—White Star

After the assembly session, the CM went to the house of slain SP Ijaz Khan in Sherpao, Charsadda, to offer condolences. Ijaz Khan SP Mardan rural circle, was martyred in an operation in the Katlang area of Mardan.

World leaders congratulate Shehbaz

After becoming the PM, Shehbaz Sharif also received felicitations from some world leaders, including China.

A spokesperson of the China’s foreign ministry said that under the leadership of newly-elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the new government, Pakistan could achieve a greater accomplishment in the cause of national development.

“We believe that under the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz and the new administration, Pakistan can achieve a greater agreement in nation building, “ Mao Ning said during her regular briefing in response to a question asked by a reporter.

President Recep Tayyip Erd­ogan of Turkiye called PM Shehbaz and congratulated him on his election as the country’s chief executive. The prime minister expressed his gratitude to President Erdogan for his “gracious gesture of brotherhood and fraternity”.

He underlined that “enduring people-to-people bonds, and strong religious and cultural linkages underpinned a robust Pakistan-Turkiye relationship”.

PM Shehbaz also conveyed that Pakistan looked forward to welcoming President Erdogan for the session of Pak-Turkiye High-Level Strategic Coopera­tion Council (HLSCC), scheduled to be held in Islamabad soon.

They also exchanged views on the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza and reaffirmed their commitment for a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Palestinian question anchored in international law and in line with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and the Organi­sation of Islamic Cooperation.

Prime Minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim also congratulated Shehbaz Sharif on assuming the charge of his office. PM Shehbaz Sharif thanked his Malaysian counterpart, saying that Pakistan and Malaysia had a “long-standing brotherly relationship”. Highlighting the close and cordial relations between Pakistan and Malaysia, he underscored the importance of regular high-level exchanges to ensure a robust bilateral cooperation.

Both leaders agreed to work closely to further strengthen the existing ties and also took stock of regional developments, particularly the situation in Gaza. The prime minister extended an invitation to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to visit Pakistan, which he accepted.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2024

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