New Pakistan prime minister consults with ousted ex-boss on cabinet, policies | world-news | Hindustan Times
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New Pakistan prime minister consults with ousted ex-boss on cabinet, policies

It’s a signal the ex-premier would continue to wield influence after the Supreme Court disqualified him.

world Updated: Aug 02, 2017 23:22 IST
Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain (L) administers the oath to newly-elected Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Islamabad.
Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain (L) administers the oath to newly-elected Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Islamabad. (AFP photo)

Pakistan’s new prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, began his first full day in office on Wednesday by meeting his ousted former boss Nawaz Sharif, a signal the ex-premier would continue to wield influence after the Supreme Court disqualified him.

Pakistani television broadcast images of Abbasi’s motorcade arriving in the northern resort town of Muree, where Sharif is staying with his family after the Supreme Court last week disqualified him over failure to disclose a source of income.

Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party holds a solid parliamentary majority and moved quickly to project an air of continuity after the change of prime minister.

A new cabinet was due to be sworn in, with media reporting that Abbasi would retain most of the former prime minister’s loyalists.

Abbasi said in televised remarks he and Sharif “held consultations” about the new cabinet “and God willing in the next day or two the cabinet will be sworn in”.

Abbasi served as petroleum minister in Sharif’s previous cabinet, which stepped down after he was removed.

Sharif’s brother Shahbaz, tipped to become prime minister in a few months when he becomes eligible, was also present at the meeting, footage released by Abbasi’s office showed.

Abbasi said Sharif urged work to continue on the $57 billion China Pakistani Economic Corridor investments as well as other development projects. The investments involve building infrastructure in Pakistan as part of China’s Belt and Road initiative.

“He said that these projects should be completed at a higher speed than before so that we can show the world that a prime minister in a country can change, but policies remain,” Abbasi said of Sharif.

A quick transition may ease fears that the nuclear-armed nation will be plunged into another bout of turmoil, which could erode economic and security gains since the last poll in 2013.

Sharif’s allies have dismissed Friday’s ruling as a targeted campaign to unseat the popularly elected prime minister.

The PML-N party on Tuesday used its majority in the National Assembly to install Abbasi who is expected to serve until Shahbaz can take over.

Shahbaz, now chief minister of the eastern province of Punjab, home to more than half of Pakistan’s 190 million people, will have to resign and fight a parliamentary by-election before he can become prime minister.