Islamabad – The struggle of 22 years paid off as Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi was on Saturday sworn in as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan in a simple ceremony hosted at the Aiwan-i-Sadr, Islamabad.
High-profile guests, including caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan and Navy Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, were present at the ceremony.
Other notable guests included senior PTI leaders, cricketer-turned-commentator Rameez Raja, newly elected Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, singers Salman Ahmed and Abrarul Haq, actor Javaid Sheikh and former National Assembly speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza.
The ceremony marked an end to decades of rotating leadership between the ousted PML-N and the PPP, punctuated by periods of military rule.
As the swearing-in ceremony concluded, Khan was ushered to Prime Minister House, where he was presented a guard of honour by contingents from Pakistan’s three armed forces.
Khan had invited the rest of the 1992 team to the ceremony, and fast bowler Wasim Akram was pictured smiling among the crowd.
Another cricketer-turned-politician, India’s Navjot Singh Sidhu, was seated in the front row and was earlier warmly embraced by Gen Bajwa after an animated conversation between the two.
The guests had been asked to carry their NIC or accreditation cards but not to bring with them any handbags, purses, mobiles phones or any other electronic gadgetry.
According to a tweet by PTI’s official Twitter account, the ceremony’s menu of nine dishes was reduced to refreshments only on Khan’s request as part of his “austerity drive”.
After the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the biggest parliamentary party in the wake of the July 25 polls, all 120 of the party’s parliamentary committee members had rubber-stamped Khan’s candidacy for the post of the prime minister.
The party formed enough alliances and recruited enough independents to gain the numbers required to get Khan elected as the PM in Friday’s parliamentary vote.
Khan and his party campaigned on promises to end widespread graft while building an “Islamic welfare state”.
“First of all, we will start strict accountability. I promise to my God that everyone who looted this country will be made accountable,” he said in his speech as PM-elect on Friday.