Unprecedented return: He is back

Published: June 6, 2013
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It took almost 14 years for Nawaz Sharif to regain the position he was so unceremoniously deprived of when General Pervez Musharraf deposed him in a military coup.  PHOTO: AFP

It took almost 14 years for Nawaz Sharif to regain the position he was so unceremoniously deprived of when General Pervez Musharraf deposed him in a military coup. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

For four days, Nawaz Sharif sat next to the chair he will now occupy as prime minister of Pakistan in the National Assembly. Now, after he has officially won the vote and been sworn in by the president, the ‘hot seat’ is finally his.

It took almost 14 years for Nawaz Sharif to regain the position he was so unceremoniously deprived of when General Pervez Musharraf deposed him in a military coup. Even when he finally managed to return to Pakistan, he could not return to power, and instead presided over a much-diminished PML-N. Now, Nawaz has come full circle.

“I declare Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” announced Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq soon after informing the House that the PML-N chief bagged 244 votes, which means that he had the support of well above two-thirds of the 317 members present.

After the PML-N’s victory on May 11, his election as prime minister was a foregone conclusion. Before voting formally began, a copy of the prime minister’s first speech to parliamentarians was already placed before Nawaz Sharif. As on the first session of the National Assembly, the slogan that reverberated through the assembly hall was ‘Sher Aya’.

Nawaz has made history by becoming prime minister for a record third time, but unlike Yousuf Raza Gilani five years ago, he did not get elected as a consensus prime minister. That distinction still belongs to Gilani who is the only consensus prime minister in the history of the country. Despite being certain of their loss, the Pakistan Peoples Party-Parliamentarians (PPPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) decided to contest against Nawaz.

However, the PPPP’s Makhdoom Amin Fahim and the PTI’s Makhdoom Javed Hashmi – Nawaz’s long-time ally-turned-political rival – could only obtain about as many votes as their parties had seats. It was 31 votes for Hashmi and 42 for Fahim.

The PML-N chief sailed through the election process but not before some drama on the floor of the lower house of Parliament and in the lobbies.

Inside the assembly hall, PML-N lawmakers were busy grabbing other members one by one to come and vote for their candidate. Outside in the lobbies, hundreds of their supporters were trying to get into the already jam-packed visitors’ galleries to witness their leader becoming prime minister for a record third time.

Some even intruded into the press gallery where journalists themselves had to force the visitors out at one
point. People who had come from Lahore and other cities of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were simply not willing to miss the show.

The National Assembly Secretariat issued over 3,000 visitors’ passes while the total seating capacity is 800. The angry supporters kept banging at the locked doors of the assembly hall even during the voting, provoking some members of the PTI to lodge a protest.

“Stranger in the house! Some non-members have managed to enter the assembly hall right under your nose, sir, and from the galleries they have been continuously raising slogans which the rules do not allow,” PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi protested to the speaker.

“I take full responsibility for the mismanagement and inconvenience caused and I apologise to the House and to the people for this,” responded Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, who then himself had to go up to the galleries and request people to leave the press galleries they had occupied.

Voting finally began when some semblance of order had been restored, but the irritated visitors kept banging on the locked doors from the outside. The show, it seems, was just too enticing to miss. For the purpose of voting, to be conducted on division basis, three lobbies were established. Members voting for Nawaz had to get to lobby ‘A’ and register their votes on a list. The same was to be done for Hashmi in ‘B’ and Fahim in ‘C’. The number of votes on all three lists then had to be separately counted and the result handed over to the speaker for announcement. More than the elections process itself, people were interested in watching certain members choose their candidate.

That’s where the drama came in. Suspense mounted when all others went into their respective galleries while members of the MQM, PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and his JUI-F cohorts, QWP leader Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, the ANP’s sole representative Ameer Haider Hoti, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Ijazul Haq, the chief of PML-Z remained sitting. Given that most of them had already promised their support to Nawaz, this caused a measure of consternation in the PML-N camp.

The PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique was the first to make a move. He grabbed hold of Jamshed Dasti and took him to Nawaz. Then other PML-N members, including Chaudhry Nisar and Sheikh Aftab, went up to other leaders to ask them to act upon their promises.

But it was not until the PML-N chief stood up in his chair that these leaders came up to him and then proceeded to the gallery A. One man was left waiting, as not a single PML-N member tried to woo Sheikh Rashid. He waited and then finally proceeded to the PTI’s gallery.

Then came congratulations, as parliamentary leaders flocked to felicitate the newly-elected prime minister. Now all eyes were on Rashid, Ijazul Haq and Hashmi. The former PML-N stalwart and current PTI President Javed Hashmi was the first to break the silence. He walked over to the leader of the house’s seat and embraced his former chief, as the galleries exploded with claps, cheers and chants.

“Nawaz Sharif was my leader yesterday and he is my leader today,” said Hashmi in his subsequent, and clearly heartfelt, speech.

Then it was Rashid’s turn. This time the roar from the visitors’ galleries was louder than before even though the former PML-N leader only shook hands with Nawaz.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Faisal
    Jun 6, 2013 - 2:55AM

    Open season to gather riches… Come everyone..

    Recommend

  • Shafiq
    Jun 6, 2013 - 2:56AM

    “awww” for That awkward moment when Sheikh had to smile and shake hand with Nawaz.

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  • Raj - USA
    Jun 6, 2013 - 3:20AM

    Pakistanis have waited for a long time to see this good day. It is almost like a 2nd independence day for them. I wish all Pakistanis prosperous and peaceful days ahead.

    Recommend

  • Bilal Khan
    Jun 6, 2013 - 4:58AM

    there was no need of ball to ball commentary . poorly written article.

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  • khan
    Jun 6, 2013 - 7:35AM

    too many mistake in the article

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  • xor
    Jun 6, 2013 - 7:53AM

    Majority of last assembly parliamentarians now huddled around Nawaz.

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  • Cobrajock
    Jun 6, 2013 - 8:34AM

    An engineered return, would have been a better caption.

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  • Ali S
    Jun 6, 2013 - 8:50AM

    What is this? A live cricket commentary?

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  • Mirza
    Jun 6, 2013 - 9:08AM

    Even though I am not in favor of any rightwing party especially those endorsed and fully protected by TTP but being a democrat I salute the transfer of power and the new govt of NS. People have spoken and most democrats are bowing to their will. The decency and character shows in victory and defeat wich is a part of democracy. Most lose and only one wins which supported by people. NS has full mandate and majority, all the experience and he has no excuse not to fulfill most of his promises. Elections are over he is our leader for the next 5 years and till next elections no need to delegitimize people’s verdict. Welcome to the hot seat Mr. PM!
    If PTI would have won I would not be happy but would welcome them and bow down to the will of the electorate.

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  • Irtiza
    Jun 6, 2013 - 9:41AM

    I don’t like two front pockets sherwani. He should have opted for a single pocket.

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  • Faisal Khan
    Jun 6, 2013 - 10:33AM

    @irtiza – oh well the more the pockets the better …. we know why ;)

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  • Jun 6, 2013 - 6:08PM

    We cannot over emphasize Pakistan’s importance in the region. We greatly appreciate all of Pakistan’s sacrifices in regards to our peace objectives. We’ve come a long way and overcame many obstacle and challenges along the way. We hope to continue our partnership and maintain a good working relationship for the betterment of the region. We reiterate what US State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said: “We congratulate Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his party’s success in the May 11 elections and look forward to working with him and the newly democratically elected government of Pakistan.We have a very strong, ongoing dialogue with Pakistan regarding all aspects of the relationship and our shared interest including security and counterterrorism cooperation and we work together to address each other’s concerns. As we move forward, with our counterterrorism operations, it is critically important that we continue to work closely with our partners throughout the world, providing them the support they need, helping build their capacity to carry out counterterrorism operations in their own countries. And that is what we expect the conversation will be and what it will continue to be with Pakistanis.”

    Ali Khan

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  • Insaan
    Jun 6, 2013 - 8:58PM

    @US CENTCOM: We cannot over emphasize Pakistan’s importance in the region. We greatly appreciate all of Pakistan’s sacrifices in regards to our peace objectives.

    Are you officially authorized to make statements on behalf of US CENTCOM. Like ”
    We cannot over emphasize Pakistan’s importance in the region. We greatly appreciate all of Pakistan’s sacrifices in regards to our peace objectives.”

    What has Pakistan done for the region, other then spreading terrorism? Pakistanis are not killing each other to fulfill US or NATOS or neighboring countries peace objectives. US is partly responsible for creating this situation by giving billions of dollars in FREE AID. Millions of dollars has been given to Paki officials as bounty money.

    Sooner or later, non-State actors will come to USA to hurt US Interests.

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