Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan will on Saturday begin a new innings as Pakistan’s 22nd prime minister, promising to usher the change the “this nation has waited 70 years for”.
Khan will be sworn in President Mamnoon Hussain at the President’s House at 9.30 am (Pakistan Standard Time).
Elected prime minister by the newly-constituted National Assembly on Friday, he secured 176 votes in the 342-member house, defeating Shahbaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), who got only 96 votes as the Pakistan Peoples Party abstained.
As Speaker Asad Qaiser announced the result, cheers broke out from PTI lawmakers while PML (Nawaz) members raised slogans against Khan, leading to a brief adjournment.
In his first speech to lawmakers as prime minister-designate, Khan dismissed allegations of election fraud and assured to identify the people who had looted the country and bring them to justice. He ruled out any National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) for “dacoits”.
“Today, I want to thank Allah who has given me this opportunity to bring change in Pakistan. The change that this nation has waited 70 years for! I promise my nation that the change we will bring, it is the change that this country was hoping and praying for,” he said.
“The first thing we have to do is strict accountability; those people who have looted the country, I promise that they will be brought to justice.”
“Those who stole this nation’s money and stashed it abroad, I will InshAllah bring them all to accountability,” he said.
Invoking the nation’s founding father Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Khan said: “My father was never in politics, I had no political experience, I struggled for 22 years and I am proud that we can lead this country to become like what our hero Quaid e Azam envisioned. His struggle was the strongest.”
He also thanked the country’s youth “because of whom I stand here today. If they had not stepped out, we would not have been here today” and assured his government would work towards “a prosperous future” for them.
Citing his sporting career, as Pakistan’s cricket captain, he said that in the history of the game he “was the solo captain who struggled for neutral umpires and brought them into the game for the first time in 1986”.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party won the most seats in the July 25 vote but fell short of securing a majority in the 342-seat house.However, it had secured support from smaller parties and Independents to reach the halfway mark.