Pakistan lawmakers pick Abbasi to replace Sharif

Lawmakers in Pakistan have elected Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as prime minister, replacing Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted last week over corruption allegations.

The ruling party wants the former oil minister to hold the role temporarily until Mr Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif, can take over.

Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab province’s chief minister, must win a parliamentary by-election to be eligible for PM.

Mr Abbasi was elected with 221 votes from the 342-member National Assembly.

He thanked Nawaz Sharif after the vote, saying “the process of democracy is back on track” and rejecting claims he would only serve as a placeholder for Shahbaz Sharif.

“They say, ‘Oh, he’s only here for 45 days.’ I say, I may be here for 45 days or 45 hours, but I’m not here to keep the seat warm,” he said.

“I intend to work and get some important things done if the cabinet supports me in this.”

Opposition groups had also nominated candidates but the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party holds a majority and was easily able to get their candidate through.

Lawmakers from the party chanted the name of Nawaz Sharif after the vote.

PML-N lawmaker Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan earlier told Reuters news agency the prime objective was “to give Pakistan stability”.

“As a responsible party we have to take Pakistan ahead,” he said.

Shahbaz Sharif is to contest the parliamentary seat left vacant by his ousted brother but that process is expected to take at least 45 days.

Mr Abbasi went to university in the US, and worked there and in Saudi Arabia as an engineer before entering Pakistani politics.

He is a long-time ally of Nawaz Sharif, who has been prime minister three times.

Mr Sharif’s third spell in the job came to an end on Friday when he stepped down following a decision by the Supreme Court to disqualify him from office. (Courtesy BBC)