Ex-cricket champion Imran Khan takes charge of Pakistan

Ex-cricket champion Imran Khan was officially elected Prime Minister of Pakistan on Friday, promising a new era of responsibility and prosperity during a combative speech in parliament.

Unsurprisingly, the National Assembly resulting from the legislative elections of July 25, largely won by his party, elected him with 176 votes, ie 4 more than necessary. He should be sworn in on Saturday.

Mr. Khan, 65, was the big favorite for this vote against his only rival, Shahbaz Sharif, leader of the PML-N (Pakistani Muslim League), the former ruling party. Mr. Sharif for his part received 96 votes.

The announcement of Mr. Khan’s victory was immediately greeted by a very long ovation in the hemicycle. The future head of government, for his part, remained seated calmly, smiling at the cameras and responding to salutes, a rosary in his hand.

But he then found more combative accents in the speech he delivered to the assembly.

« I promise to bring the change that this nation so badly needs. To begin with, we are going to hold people strictly accountable for their actions. I pledge to God that whoever plundered this country will be held accountable, » he said. he launched.

He also implicitly brushed aside numerous accusations of military interference in his favor during the election campaign. « I am here after 22 years of fighting, no dictator has taken charge of me, » he said.

He also promised to « cooperate » in the face of accusations of fraud in the July elections advanced by a large part of the opposition, while challenging them to organize a long-term sit-in like himself. had done four months in 2014.

Shahbaz Sharif, brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had hoped for a time to rally the opposition behind him to get elected, once again denounced « massive fraud » in the July elections and demanded a parliamentary commission.

Mr. Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), largely won the July 25 legislative elections. But he had not obtained enough seats to be able to form the government on his own. Since the election, negotiations with other parties and elected independents have been going well to set up a coalition.

Mr. Khan’s victory in the elections opens a new political era for the country, interrupting decades of political alternation between the PML-N and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), interspersed with periods of military power.

Pakistan, born out of the partition of British colonial India and which celebrated its 71st birthday this week, has been ruled by the military for nearly half of its turbulent history.

Even before the formal vote on Friday, Mr. Khan received congratulations from Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. The young Pakistani said she was « impatient » to participate in efforts to educate the « 13 million young Pakistani women » currently out of the school system.

– Degraded economy –

The PTI has already appointed a provincial government in its stronghold of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Northwest) and formed an alliance with regional parties in the province of Balochistan (Southwest).

He should be brought in the next few days to form a coalition with the PML-N in the central province of Punjab, the richest and most populated in the country. The province of Sindh (South) remains in the hands of the PPP.

Among the main challenges facing the Khan government are the country’s improving but still precarious security situation in some areas and a growing population.

It will also face a deteriorating economic situation, which could force it to very quickly request a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and enormous problems of water resources.

Finally, and although Mr. Khan currently seems to have good relations with the generals, he could, like many of his predecessors, eventually find himself in conflict with them on matters of defense and foreign policy, which they are deemed to control.

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