PTI’s deputy chief likely to be Speaker of Pakistan assembly, to pave way for Mazari as foreign minister

Geo News reported that deputy chief Shah Mehmood Qureshi is not happy with the decision but Imran Khan convinced him to take the post owing to his experience as a parliamentarian which puts him in a position to deal with the active opposition.

world Updated: Aug 07, 2018 07:54 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Islamabad
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf,Pakistan Prime Minister,Imran Khan
Cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, in Islamabad, on July 25. (REUTERS)

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s parliamentary committee on Monday officially named party chairman Imran Khan as their parliamentary leader and nominee for the next prime minister, prompting strong speculation that deputy chief Shah Mehmood Qureshi may be named speaker of the National Assembly.

If Qureshi is named speaker, it could pave the way for Khan’s close aide Shireen Mazari to become the country’s next foreign minister.

Geo News reported that the party will “announce senior party leader Qureshi as their candidate for the post of National Assembly speaker”. The channel added that Qureshi “is not happy with the decision but Imran convinced him to take the post owing to his experience as a parliamentarian which puts him in a position to deal with the active opposition”.

However, many insist that Mazari may not be named foreign minister as a number of countries have expressed their reservations over her competence in the past. As editor of an English language daily, Mazari had angered Western governments by printing highly speculative and defamatory stories in her paper. “She is particularly vicious when it comes to the US and to India,” one Western diplomat said.

Speaking to the media, Qureshi dismissed the reports. “Our central media cell will inform you of such a decision. You (journalists) should not listen to such reports unless they are officially communicated,” he said.

Earlier on Monday, Khan, addressing PTI leaders after his formal confirmation of his nomination, said: “Today, I have been given the biggest of responsibilities... Today, the first phase of a 22-year-long struggle is complete. Today, God has given you a moral victory.

“After 1970, this is the first time that the masses have defeated the political elite. This happens very rarely that in a two-party system a third once gets a chance.”

Khan warned his fellow party leaders that they must not govern the “traditional way”. He said: “There are challenges aplenty for the PTI government. The people do not expect us to govern the traditional way; we are viewed as different. If we do traditional politics then we would also fall prey to the public wrath.”

Vowing to “lead by example” he said: “I will make decision on merit and in the national interest, and will never ask you to do something that I wouldn’t myself.

“One hour every week I will give answers to the public — like it happens in England. We will also make the ministers answerable to the public in the truest sense.”

Khan has also reportedly sent out invitations for his oath-taking ceremony as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan.

Political parties aligned against PTI have announced that they are fielding their own candidate for prime minister in Parliament. The parties, including the PML-N, PPP, MMA, and ANP, have decided to field their own consensus candidates for the prime minister, speaker and deputy speaker slots in the National Assembly.

The PTI, for its part, has said it now has the requisite numbers needed to form a government in the Centre and in Punjab. “PTI’s seat tally in the National Assembly currently stands at 125 after the inclusion of independents,” party spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said, but did not mention when the required 137 seats would be in the party’s favour.

He further claimed that the party has a majority in Punjab as well. “We now have 186 seats in the Punjab Assembly,” he said.

First Published: Aug 07, 2018 07:53 IST