ISLAMABAD: ‘Kaptan’ Imran Khan on Saturday began a new innings as Pakistan’s Prime Minister, assuming the reins at a time when the country was facing serious financial woes, uneasy ties with its neighbours and possible international sanctions for failing to combat terrorism.
Khan (65), the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, was administered the oath of office as Pakistan’s 22nd Prime Minister by President Mamnoon Hussain at a simple ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President House) here.
The ceremony, which had been scheduled to begin at 9:30 am, started 40-minute late. It commenced with the national anthem, followed by recitation of verses from the Holy Quran. Clad in a traditional greyish black sherwani, a tearful former cricket hero was seen little nervous as he stumbled over some of the Urdu words of the oath administered to him.
Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, diplomats and other special invitees were present on the occasion.
Wasim Akram and other members of the 1992 cricket World Cup winning team that Khan captained to victory watched the ceremony alongside senior PTI leaders.
“A new morning is here in Pakistan with a new government which can change destiny of the country,” he said, hoping that Khan’s victory will be good for Pakistan-India peace process.
India’s relations with Pakistan remains strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016. The sentencing of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to death by a Pakistani military court in April last year has further deteriorated the bilateral ties.
Khan has assumed charge days after a delegation of the global financial watchdog Financial Action Task Force asked Pakistan to strengthen its laws and implementation against terror financing and money laundering.
The Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, which visited Pakistan this week, will submit a report to the Paris-based FATF which placed the country on its ‘grey list’ in June.
Khan has said that his initial focus would be on reviving Pakistan’s battered economy. Pakistan’s currency, the rupee, has declined significantly in the last year. Inflation is on the rise and the country’s trade deficit is widening.
The new PTI government will also have to deal with a huge debt burden and dwindling foreign exchange reserves, ‘The Express Tribune’ reported.
Analysts say the new government may need to turn to the International Monetary Fund for Pakistan’s second bailout since 2013, which could complicate efforts to boost welfare.
Khan’s oath ceremony marks the end of decades of rotating leadership between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan People’s Party – the two main political parties that dominated Pakistan’s political scene when the powerful military was not ruling the Muslim-majority country.
Khan’s third wife Bushra Bibi was also present at the event.
Later, Khan was presented a guard of honour at the Prime Minister House. Khan had previously announced that he would not stay at the palatial home of the Prime Minister.
Khan, who described Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah as his hero, has promised to transform corruption-affected Pakistan into an Islamic welfare state.
Khan’s government will be the third consecutive democratic government in Pakistan since 2008 when military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf announced elections after serving as president from 2001 to 2008 following a bloodless coup in 1999.