President cancels Ireland visit for PM’s oath-taking

ISLAMABAD: Pre­sident Mamnoon Hussain has shelved his three-day visit to Ireland, apparently to be available on Aug 18 to administer the oath to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan as the 21st prime minister of the country.
Official President House told media that Mr Hussain had earlier decided to proceed to Ireland on Aug 16 to attend the award-distribution ceremony of Royal College of Physicians where he too had to receive an honorary degree. However, he cancelled the visit on the request of caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk.
The official said caretaker Information and Law Minister Ali Zafar met the president late on Thursday night and conveyed the message of the prime minister to him.
The president, on the recommendation of the interim prime minister, has already summoned a session of the National Assembly on Aug 13 so that the process of formation of the new government could start.
The PTI has secured 115 seats of the National Assembly in the July 25 general elections and with the support of its allies and independent candidates, the party claimed to have a simple majority in the lower house of parliament with around 180 seats.
Earlier, it was expected that Mr Khan, according to his own desire, would take the oath as prime minister on Independence Day — Aug 14 — but due some legal compulsion and the process of finalisation of election results by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), it seemed impossible.
The demand for cancellation of President Hussain’s foreign visit also came from the PTI when Mr Khan’s close aide Naeemul Haq urged the president to cancel his three-day official visit to Ireland that was to be concluded on Aug 19.
PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said that the absence of Mr Hussain did not matter as Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, being acting president, could administer the oath to the new prime minister.
It has been learnt that soon after Mr Khan takes the oath as prime minister, the governors of three provinces — Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan — are likely to step down.
Party leader close to former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif told media that Mr Sharif was unhappy that the president and three governors appointed by the last government were still sitting in their offices while Muhammad Zubair had resigned as governor of Sindh.