Pakistan’s nukes ‘not safe’? What all happened since Imran’s ouster
World / Updated: Apr 16, 2022, 19:55 IST
NEW DELHI: The dust has not settled in Pakistan politics with Imran Khan‘s ouster as PM, or with Shehbaz Sharif replacing him on April 11.
The new prime minister is yet to put together a cabinet. More details have emerged about the Army and former PM Khan being on different pages on several matters. We do a recap of the major developments in the days since Shehbaz Sharif assumed office.
Sharif takes oath
Shehbaz Sharif took oath as the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan on Monday evening, hours after being elected by the National Assembly.
Prime Minister-elect Shehbaz Sharif was administered the oath by the Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani after President Arif Alvi fell ill.
PM Narendra Modi was one of the first to congratulate Shehbaz Sharif on assuming the Pakistan PM’s office. Taking to Twitter, he wrote ” India desires peace and stability in a region free of terror, so that we can focus on our development challenges and ensure the well-being and prosperity of our people.”
Kashmir- an obsession with Pakistan’s polity
Sharif in his inaugural speech as Pakistan prime minister raised the issue of abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir. He even alleged that the people in the Valley were “bleeding,” and Pakistan will provide them with “diplomatic and moral support” besides raising the matter at every international fora.
Despite his overtures about improving relations with India, Sharif mentioned that a solution to the Kashmir ‘problem’ was vital for a lasting peace in the region.
National assembly elects new speaker, Suri resigns
Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, a former Pakistan premier, was on Saturday appointed the 22nd speaker of the country’s National Assembly after he was elected unopposed.
Ashraf, 71, from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was administered the oath of office by PML-N’s Ayaz Sadiq, who was initially chairing the session.
Qasim Khan Suri resigned as deputy speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly on Saturday, less than an hour before a session of the House where voting on a no-trust motion against him was to take place for favouring the previous government led by Khan.
Suri from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party had been functioning as the acting speaker following the resignation of Speaker Asad Qaiser.
Imran doubts safety of Pakistan’s nukes
During a roadshow in Peshawar, Imran Khan questioned whether Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe in the hands of what he called “robbers” and “thieves”, referring to the newly elected Shehbaz Sharif regime.
“The conspiracy under which these people were brought to power, I ask my institutions, is our nuclear program which is in their hands, can they protect it?” Khan said.
Pakistan Army rubbished Khan’s allegations.
“There is no such threat to our nuclear program and we should not bring it up in our political discussions,” DG-ISPR, Gen Babar Iftikhar said.
“Our program is at such a place that our command and control mechanism, asset security is one of the best in international evaluation,” he added.
Army contradicts Imran on ‘conspiracy’ statement
The Pakistan army’s public relations wing (ISPR) said that the word “conspiracy” was not used in the statement issued after a meeting of the National Security Committee last month, apparently contradicting ousted PM Imran Khan who has accused America of hatching a conspiracy to topple his government.
About the threatening “letter” and the protest launched later on, he said the protest can be launched for various reasons. “This demarche was issued because there was a statement about interference and undiplomatic language.”
DG-ISPR also said that the pakistan Army has “nothing to do with politics” and will remain “apolitical.”
PTI members resign from National Assembly
Majority of the lawmakers from Imran Khan’s PTI submitted their resignations from the National Assembly, following a decision in the party’s parliamentary committee meeting.
However PML-N alleged that Khan was forcing the resignations of his party lawmakers.
The Deputy Speaker of National Assembly on Thursday accepted the resignations of 123 PTI MNAs on Thursday. PTI had 155 members in the 342-member house- of them, 20 are dissidents who have been served notices by the party. The decision of the remaining 12 lawmakers is still unclear.
No Cabinet yet
Shehbaz Sharif has not announced his cabinet, even 5 days after he became the prime minister. Initial reports said that despite several overtures, PPP has remained cold to joining the Sharif government, and is only ready to gove outside support. However more recent reports suggest the party might after all be part of the Sharif government.
MQM-P too has so far talked of lending external support.
A PML-N lamaker said the new cabinet would be formed in the next couple of days with a consensus.
China-Pak tango to continue
China said that it will always put its “all-weather ally” Pakistan as a priority in its neighbourhood diplomacy.
“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperation partners and iron-clad brothers. We will as always put Pakistan as a priority of our neighbourhood diplomacy and to support its efforts to realise revitalisation,” a Chinese foreign ministry spekesperson said.
Shehbaz Sharif, in his first speech as PM, had said that regardless of the government in Islamabad, Pakistan-China relation will continue to flourish.
US ‘looking forward’ to working with new govt
Imran Khan waited over a year for a phone call from US President Biden. But the call never came.
For Shehbaz- although not a phone call- the recognition from White House did not take long.
“We’ve congratulated Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on his election by the Pakistani parliament, and we look forward to working with him and his government,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said on Friday.
Imran accused of selling, pocketing state gifts
Shehbaz Sharif has accused ousted premier Imran Khan of selling valuable Toshakhana gifts, including diamond jewellery, worth Rs 140 million in Dubai, inflicting a loss to the national exchequer.
As per the country’s law, any gift received from dignitaries of a foreign state must be put in the state depository or the Toshakhana.
A journalist tweeted that Imran and his third wife Bushra Bibi “retained seven Rolex watches, multiple necklaces, bracelets, rings, multiple diamond chains, gold pens, and even dinner sets by paying little amounts of money.”
Sulking PTI unleashes social media campaign
The “tabdeeli warriors” of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) have started a social media campaign, rallying for “independence from US interference.”
PTI’s official account-led ‘imported hukumat’ hashtag has been trending on the national and global trends panel for days, with an unprecedented volume of 17 million tweets, including retweets.
The Federal Investigation Agency’s counter-terrorism wing has launched a crackdown on social media activists that it believes have been involved in a smear campaign against institutions, especially the army.
(With inputs from agencies)