Pakistan’s new Parliament was sworn-in on Saturday, completing the country’s first-ever democratic transition of power in a country ruled for half its history by the military.
Newly-elected lawmakers came to the Parliament building for the oath-taking ceremony amid tight security around the “Red Zone” of the capital Islamabad where key government buildings are located, an AFP photographer said.
Speaker of the national assembly Fehmida Mirza administered the oath to lawmakers, with the ceremony broadcast live on television. The session began with the playing of national anthem and the traditional recitation from the Koran.
The national assembly secretariat said in a statement that a new speaker and deputy speaker will be elected through secret ballot on Monday, while the new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, will be formally elected by the lower house and sworn in on Wednesday.
Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) romped to victory in the elections and will command 177 of the 342 seats in the new assembly, giving it significant leverage to oust President Asif Ali Zardari when his term expires in September.
The former PM, 63, will take up the reins of power for an unprecedented third term when he is sworn in. During his two previous administrations he earned a reputation for hotheadedness and pugnacity.
“I thank Allah who gave our nation an opportunity to bring a new government through elections,” Sharif told reporters at Islamabad airport where he arrived from his home town Lahore.