Imran Khan takes oath as 22nd premier of Pakistan

Islamabad: Pakistan´s new Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi  was sworn in as Pakistan’s new Prime Minister at a ceremony in Islamabad on Saturday,  The ceremony at the President´s House in the capital marks the end of decades of rotating leadership between the ousted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

The oath ceremony of Imran Khan, clad in a traditional black sherwani was  televised live by the state broadcaster PTV. He swore to “bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan”, and to “discharge my duties and perform my functions honestly, to the best of my ability… and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of Pakistan”.

High-profile guests, including caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan and Navy Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, were present at the ceremony.

Other notable guests included senior PTI leaders, cricketer-turned-commentator Rameez Raja, newly elected Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, singers Salman Ahmed and Abrarul Haq, actor Javaid Sheikh and former National Assembly speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza.

After the ceremony concluded, PM Khan reached the Prime Minister’s Office and was presented a guard of honour by a contingent of the Pakistan Army.

Imran was elected premier after securing 176 votes against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Shehbaz Sharif’s 96 votes in an open ballot conducted in the National Assembly.

Khan had invited the rest of the 1992 cricket team to the ceremony, and fast bowler Wasim Akram was pictured smiling among the crowd.

Another cricketer-turned-politician, India´s Navjot Singh Sidhu, was seated in the front row and earlier warmly embraced the powerful Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Khan campaigned on promises to end widespread graft while building an “Islamic welfare state”. “I promise to my God that everyone who looted this country will be made accountable,” he said in Friday´s speech to parliament.

“I am here after 22 years of struggle. No dictator has taken care of me. I am standing here in this parliament on my own feet,” he told the raucous assembly as opposition members shouted protest slogans.

He will face myriad challenges including militant extremism, water shortages, and a rapidly growing population negating growth in the developing country, among others.

Most pressing is a looming economic crisis, with speculation that Pakistan will have to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. PTI fell short of an outright majority in the July 25 vote, forcing Khan to partner with smaller parties and independents in order to form a government.

But it retained its stronghold in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and has made an alliance with regional parties in Balochistan. The party is also expected to form a coalition government in powerful Punjab, formerly a PML-N stronghold. Southern Sindh province remains in the hands of the PPP.

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