Imran Khan was sworn in as Pakistan’s prime minister on Saturday after winning a vote from a majority lawmakers with a pledge to curb corruption through “ruthless accountability.”
President Mamnoon Hussain took oath from the 65-year-old former cricket star in Islamabad. Khan, whose Movement for Justice party won the most seats in last month’s national poll, beat his opponent Shehbaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to Pakistan’s premiership amid protests by opposition parties in the National Assembly on Friday. Khan’s immediate task will be appointing a cabinet with a finance minister, who will need to tackle the challenges of rising deficits and depleting foreign reserves.
His foreign minister will have to deal with building US pressure on the nuclear-armed nation over its alleged support for insurgent groups and also improving ties with neighbouring India and Afghanistan.
Asad Umar, a senior PTI lawmaker and the possible incoming finance minister, said in an interview this month that Pakistan may need more than $12 billion to plug the finance gap. A decision on where to source funds needs to be made by September at the latest, he said.
Many investors, analysts and politicians expect most or part of that will come from an International Monetary Fund bailout. With Pakistan a key country along its Belt and Road trade route, China has also been providing the South Asian nation with billions of dollars in stop-gap loans this year.
In his speech to Parliament, Khan pledged not to spare those who looted the nation’s wealth, while his rival Shehbaz demanded that Khan launch a probe into election rigging or face “street protests.” The main opposition groups including Shehbaz’s Pakistan Muslim League and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party have complained that rigging and military manipulation helped Khan win the July 25 ballot. Both Khan and the army deny the allegations.