ISLAMABAD: Putting an end to speculation about the election of prime minister expectedly on Independence Day, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) declared that Imran Khan would take the oath as the country’s 21st prime minister on Aug 18.
After a meeting of senior party leaders at Mr Khan’s residence in Banigala, the PTI also announced the names of Asad Qaiser, Chaudhry Sarwar and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi for the positions of National Assembly speaker, Punjab governor and Punjab Assembly speaker, respectively.
While no decision has been made for the Punjab chief minister’s slot, the PTI decided to call a grand meeting of parliamentarians of the party and its allies on Monday evening after they would have been administered the oath by the speaker of the previous assembly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq of the PML-N.
The PTI claims to have secured a simple majority in the NA by having the support of 180 MNAs.
PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry while speaking to media: “It has been decided by the party that Imran Khan will take the oath as prime minister of Pakistan on Aug 18. The decision was taken in a meeting of senior party leaders at his residence in Banigala.”
The official date of the oath of the prime minister is announced by the NA speaker. The inaugural session of the assembly will commence on Aug 13 when all the MNAs will be administered the oath while the election of speaker and deputy speaker will be held on Aug 15 or 16.
Addressing the media after the party’s meeting, PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced that former speaker of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Asad Qaiser had been nominated for the position of NA speaker. He said ex-governor of Punjab, Chaudhry Sarwar, had been nominated for the same slot, while Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi would be supported for the office of Punjab Assembly speaker.
The PTI also appointed focal persons to have close liaison with the parliamentarians of the party and its allies as well as independent candidates.
Even for the PTI leaders, the nomination of Mr Qaiser as NA speaker was unexpected, as many people believed that someone from the PTI’s core group would be selected for the position. The names of Dr Arif Alvi and Shafqat Mehmood were circulating in the media.
Mr Qaiser, who hails from the Swabi district, was an educationist before entering politics. He was a leader of Pasban, an offshoot of Jamaat-i-Islami, before joining the PTI in 1996.
He was made PTI’s KP chapter president in 2008. In the previous general election, he had won both the NA and provincial assembly seats. However, he was asked to retain his provincial assembly seat. He was reportedly running for the chief minister’s position but the slot was given to Pervez Khattak and he was elected as the KP Assembly’s speaker — a position he retained during the whole term of the PTI.
In the July 25 polls, Mr Qaiser maintained his record by winning one seat each in the NA and the KP assembly. This time, however, Imran Khan asked him to vacate his provincial assembly seat as the PTI needed maximum seats in the National Assembly to form its government at the Centre.
Born in Faisalabad, Chaudhry Sarwar moved to Scotland, in the 70s and joined politics there after a successful business career. In 1997, he was elected MP from Glasgow Govan.
In 2013, however, Mr Sarwar left British politics and returned to Pakistan. He joined the PML-N and was made Punjab governor the same year following the party’s electoral victory. However, he quit the party after developing some differences with the top leadership of the PML-N and joined the PTI. He was elected senator on a PTI ticket in March.
The PML-Q leader and former deputy prime minister has been nominated as Punjab Assembly speaker. The PML-Q, which won four NA seats, had earlier announced its support for the PTI both at the Centre and in Punjab.
During Gen Musharraf’s regime, Mr Elahi had served as the chief minister of Punjab.
At the press talk, Mr Qureshi thanked the party allies namely PML-Q, Balochistan National Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Awami Muslim League and others for supporting the PTI. He said the PTI wanted to have a meeting with all parliamentarians of the PTI and allied parties to chalk out the future line of action. In this connection, he added, a grand meeting of parliamentarians would be held on Aug 13.
He said the PTI would support BAP president Jam Kamal for the slot of Balochistan chief minister.
Mr Qureshi said the PTI also made some senior party leaders as focal persons to have close coordination with the parliamentarians. For this, he said, Mr Khattak would look after the KP and Fata region; Mr Alvi would take care of parliamentarians elected from Sindh. Shafqat Mehmood would coordinate with MNAs from central Punjab, Chaudhry Sarwar would coordinate with members from west Punjab, while Amir Kiyani would coordinate with north Punjab and he himself would coordinate with members from south Punjab.
Asked about the delay in commencement of the NA session and subsequent election of the PM, Mr Qureshi said: “It was because of some legal compulsion and the process of finalisation of election results by the ECP.
“I hope this whole process will move forward within the legal framework and the president will fulfil his role in the best possible manner.”