Cricket hero-turned-politician Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party, was sworn in Saturday as Pakistan’s prime minister.
Pakistan’s newly elected National Assembly Friday formally chose Khan as prime minister, successfully marking the second peaceful transition from one democratically elected government to another in the country’s 70-year political history, which has been marred by military interventions and turmoil.
Khan, who is 65, captured 176 of the 272 ballots cast in the lower house of Parliament.
Khan’s rival candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) party, Shahbaz Sharif, secured 96 votes.
The opposition candidate is the younger brother of thrice-elected former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who was convicted and sentenced last month to 10 years in jail on corruption charges.
Khan’s anti-corruption campaign against Sharif and his family’s overseas assets resonated widely, especially among younger Pakistanis clamoring for change, playing role in his party’s election victory.
Election rigging charges
He dismissed charges of election rigging and promised the PTI government will fully cooperate with the opposition in investigating them.
The third largest political group in the parliament, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of slain ex-Pakistani leader, Benazir Bhutto, abstained from the voting process in the 342-member house.
The independent Election Commission of Pakistan has rejected rigging charges as unfounded, though it admitted failure in the electronic reporting system that resulted in delayed announcements of results on the polling day.
Before Khan’s victory, the PML-N or the PPP had ruled Pakistan when the military was not in power.
The cricketer turned politician led Pakistan’s national cricket team to win the 1992 Cricket World Cup.
The economy is the biggest challenge facing Khan on the domestic front, while Pakistan’s relations with the United States also have deteriorated and lately plunged to historic lows. An increasingly deadly war in neighboring Afghanistan also poses serious challenge to regional stability and that of Pakistan.