By Shafek Koreshe
ISLAMABAD, Aug 18 (APP):Imran Khan Saturday took oath as Prime Minister of Pakistan, culminating his 22-year long grueling struggle against ruling corrupt mafias, with a pledge to hold strict accountability and a resolve to bring back the looted wealth.
The historic event that did away with decades of rule by Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), began as the trumpeters of the Presidential Guards played the arrival tune. Attired in a charcoal coloured sherwani and white shalwar, Imran Khan entered the hall along with President Mamnoon Hussain and caretaker Prime Minister Justice (Retd) Nasir-ul-Mulk and went straight to the dias.
The hall erupted into an abrupt, unprecedented clapping on the swearing-in, that continued for several minutes. It was different from the days when President Asif Ali Zardari was sworn in and the Presidency rang with slogans of “Jeyae Bhutto” and “Sher Aya” at Nawaz Sharif’s inauguration.
The national anthem was played and the Cabinet Secretary announced opening of the event with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran. President Mamnoon Hussain administered him the oath of office in Urdu. After the oath Imran Khan shook hands with the president and the caretaker prime minister.
It was one of the most jam-packed events in the history of the Aiwan-e-Sadr as the Presidency staff barely managed to squeeze in over 900 seats in a hall. However, the members of the opposition parties opted to stay away from the ceremony. The hall was almost full to capacity by 0900 hrs. The 15-minute event began at 1010 hrs.
Khan, who secured 176 votes from the National Assembly Friday, against 96 by Mian Shehbaz Sharif of the PML-N, looked relaxed after weeks of tense politicking and efforts to set up a new government, as he shook hands with a long meandering lineup of guests, lucky enough to get through the strict security and protocol cordons of the Aiwan-e-Sadr. However, the jubilant party workers continued to jump lines, prompting the security to an early end to the reception.
Imran Khan’s wife Bushra Bibi, attired in an all white dress with a matching veil and rosary, got the front seat, next to the wife of caretaker Prime Minister Justice (Retd) Nasir-ul- Mulk and exchanged greetings with the guests. All the women guests made it a point to greet the first lady.
The guests comprised diplomats, the top beaming leadership of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf , the three services chiefs and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the senior government officials. Former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu was one of the special invitees from India at the swearing-in ceremony, besides a number of Pakistani cricket stars, including Rameez Raja, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram and Inzimmam ul Haq, Aaqib Javed, Mushtaq Ahmed, Mohsin Hassan Khan and Mudassar Nazar.
Navjot Sidhu seemed to be one of the most sought after personalities in the crowd, as a beeline of guests continued to warmly shake hands with him and get a snap and an autograph. Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa shook hands with all the guests in the front row. He warmly shook hands with Sidhu and the two hugged twice, a traditional Punjabi style of meeting, and exchanged pleasantries. The Indian media, meanwhile, rose hell over the seating of Sidhu next to Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Masood Khan.
Singers Salman Ahmed and Ibrar-ul-Haq, who lost election on the PTI ticket, and actor Javaid Sheikh were also among the guests, besides Vikram Singh Mehta, an old Oxford colleague of Imran Khan.
Keeping in view the desire of Imran Khan for austerity, the guests were offered tea and biscuits, normally around 7-10 dishes were served.
Khan’s party in its manifesto pledges to serve “as a movement to fight for a just and equitable society based on the system that Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) laid down in the Madina Charter … the first welfare state in the history of mankind.”
The enthusiastic party supporters at the event described success of Khan as nothing but a dream come true for the cricketer turned politician, who single-handedly launched his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 1996. The PTI had managed to secure 314,820 votes against 8,751,793 of the PML-N in the 1997 election. The party in 2018 got 16,903,702 votes against 12,934,589 of the PML-N.
The social media erupted with congratulatory messages from across the world. The British Prime Minister, who talked to Imran Khan last night, in a tweet said: “Pleased to talk to @ImranKhanPTI, Prime Minister of Pakistan. The UK and Pakistan share deep and important links. There is plenty for our two countries to work together on, not least increasing bilateral trade and mutual security issues.”
#PrimeMinisterImranKhan, #PrimeMinisterIK, #22ndPM and #Oath were the top trends on twitter, as the huge following the Khan has on social media flooded the cyber world with messages of greetings, the party songs and video clips.
The University of Bradford, in a tweet, said:“Congratulations to our former Chancellor, @ImranKhanPTI. Today he has been sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan. From cricket hero, to #UniversityofBradford Chancellor, to Pakistani PM, an incredible journey. #PrimeMinisterIK #TeamBradford”.
The twitterati also reacted to the “grandiose” and “shakesperian Urdu” words in the oath and called for use of simple Urdu words so that the ordinary people may also understand the oath of their leaders.
Strict security measures were adopted to screen guests at the entrance. Three additional special walk-through gates were installed to ensure swift clearance of guests at the President House.
Prime Minister Imran Khan after the oath went to the PM House where he was accorded guard of honour by a contingent of the three services. The national anthem was played, he was given a salute and he reviewed the smartly turned out contingent. Later he was given a briefing about the working of his office.