Shehbaz Sharif elected as Pakistan’s new prime minister

Sharif elected prime minister by parliament following the removal of Imran Khan in a no-confidence vote.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan’s parliament has elected Shehbaz Sharif as the country’s new prime minister following the weekend removal of Imran Khan in a vote of no confidence.

Ahead of the vote on Monday, MPs from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party resigned en masse, boycotting the election of Sharif, the younger brother of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has been elected as prime minister,” said Acting Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq.

In his first address as prime minister in the National Assembly, Sharif announced an increase in salaries, pensions and the minimum wage for labourers.

Sharif discussed the foreign-policy failures of the outgoing government and said he will expedite the multibillion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and rebuild broken ties with partners and allies.

“We want good relations with India but there cannot be sustainable peace unless the issue of Kashmir is resolved,” he said.

Sharif invited his Indian counterpart to help solve the Kashmir dispute in line with United Nations resolutions.

The prime minister did not miss the opportunity to deal with the allegations levelled by Khan that the United States conspired with his opponents to topple his government.

Sharif ordered an in-camera briefing of the parliamentary committee on national security. Senior civil and military officials, including Pakistan’s foreign ambassador in Washington, will also attend the meeting.

“I will step down and if there is an iota of evidence [against me],” he said.

Earlier, Sharif secured 174 votes and will now form a new government that can remain in place until August 2023, when general elections are due.

No prime minister has ever completed a five-year term in office during the country’s nearly 75-year history.

The parliamentary vote was held under tight security, with nearly all roads leading to the National Assembly sealed.

Political dynasty

Sharif, who was sworn in later on Monday, comes from a family of industrialists which has become a political dynasty.

The 70-year-old was elected to the National Assembly in 2018 and headed the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party after his elder brother was barred from holding public office for life after being found guilty of corruption.

Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, was removed in the early hours of Sunday after 174 MPs voted against him in parliament. Later in the day, tens of thousands of PTI supporters took to the streets in cities across Pakistan to express their support.

“The rallies have given the message that Khan was still a popular leader,” political analyst Zahid Hussain told Al Jazeera.

Hussain said that Khan had decided to take to the streets instead of facing the opposition in the parliament.

On Monday the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) benchmark KSE-100 index soared more than 1,500 points, with analysts attributing the rally to a potential end to weeks of political instability, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The index opened at 44,444.58 and was up by 1541.57 points, or 3.47 percent, by 12:30pm (07:30 GMT), the report said.

“The market has responded positively to political stability,” financial analyst Tahir Abbas told Al Jazeera.

Former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said his party would boycott the election and would not legitimise the process.

At the outset of the proceedings, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri explained the rationale behind his contentious ruling to dismiss the no-confidence motion against Khan on April 3.

Suri said that the court had declared the ruling unconstitutional but he had issued that “as a responsible patriot Pakistani and as custodian of the national assembly.”