Imran Khan elected prime minister of Pakistan

Pakistan's newly appointed Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses lawmakers after being elected by National Assembly members in Islamabad on August 17, 2018. (AFP / Handout photo)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Imran Khan elected prime minister of Pakistan

  • Khan received 176 votes in the 342-seat National Assembly; Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN), garnered 96 votes
  • Pakistan People’s Party with 54 seats backed out of supporting opposition's candidate Shabaz sharif , weakening the position of the PML-N, which has 81 seats

ISLAMABAD: Members of Pakistan’s freshly elected national assembly voted in favor of Imran Khan to take the country’s most powerful position as its new Prime Minister crushing his opponent Shahbaz Sharif on Friday.

Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) received an impressive 176 votes in the 342 seat lower house of parliament. His rival Sharif, younger brother of imprisoned ex-Premier Nawaz Sharif and president of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) received 96 votes.

The result announcement by the speaker of the house rattled lawmakers of PML-N sparking a loud protest against Khan’s victory as unacceptable repeatedly chanting “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif” who was judicially ousted from the premiership last year and is serving time in prison on corruption charges.

Meanwhile PTI lawmakers rejoiced and congratulated Khan who remained calm amid the strong protest by his rivals which continued despite requests by the speaker Asad Qaiser for silence forcing him to temporarily suspend the assembly session.

Amid unrest, the new Prime Minister addressed the national assembly members following resumption of the session by the speaker.

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"I did not climb on any dictator's shoulders; I reached this place after struggling for 22 years. Only one leader struggled more than me, and that was my hero, Jinnah. Twice every month I will answer to the people during the question-answer session in the assembly", said Khan and vowed to bring promised change the country desires.

"We have to have strict accountability in this country; the people who looted this country, I promise that I will work against them" and “the money that was laundered, I will bring it back — the money that should have gone towards health, education, and water, went into people's pockets" Khan pledged in continuation of his anti-corruption campaign.

He briefly centered his attention towards the protesting opposition and reminded them of their failure to address his concerns when he raised his voice against election rigging during the PML-N government following 2013 general elections.

Khan told the PML-N leadership that his government would cooperate with them if they chose to take rigging allegations to court and would provide food, water, and containers if they opted to stage demonstrations against his ruling coalition.  

The PTI won the July 25 election with 116 seats in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament.

The party took in independent candidates and formed an alliance with other political parties, putting it above the threshold required for a majority in the assembly, said PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry.

Candidates backed by the PTI and its coalition partners won the key positions of the speaker and deputy speaker of the house on Wednesday, dealing another blow to the 11-party opposition alliance

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), with 54 seats backed out of supporting Sharif’s candidacy, weakening the position of the PML-N, which has 81 seats.

In response Sharif also reminded the new premier of his earlier commitment. "You had said that if rigging in 2013 elections would be proven, Nawaz Sharif's government should resign. We will not let you run from this. We will hold you accountable for stealing votes" firmly said Sharif and continued his diatribe over systematic election rigging hurling accusations.

The first time member of the national assembly, Bilawal Bhutto, the young Chairman of PPP maintained posture and decorum during the session. He challenged Khan on his words to the nation and said, "our prime minister-elect has promised a 100-day roadmap. I want to see how he creates 10 million jobs, ends poverty" and asked the new premier “what his plan will be to deal with the economic crisis" which the new government is likely to seek a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund, a door Khan had vowed not to knock for help regardless.


Smugglers pave path for migrants from Africa to Europe

Updated 1 min 37 sec ago
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Smugglers pave path for migrants from Africa to Europe

MADRID: They scale barbed-wire topped fences and cross the sea in inflatable boats or jet skis — more than 36,000 migrants entered Spain this year seeking a better life in Europe. Almost all of them relied on smugglers to make the crossing.
Ousman Umar, who made a five-year journey from Ghana to Spain, said it was “impossible” to travel thousands of kilometres from sub-Saharan Africa through deserts and other inhospitable areas without the aid of gangs.
“There is almost no chance of reaching Europe illegally” without paying traffickers, Robert Crepinko, the head of the human smuggling unit at Europol, the European Union's policing arm, told AFP.
Ninety percent of migrants who enter Europe are helped by human traffickers, he added, citing a 2015 study.
Spain has become the main entry point for migrants arriving this year, after Italy and Greece.
“The journey can last one year, two years, depending on the ring and the funds you have, because the trafficking networks will take you as far as you can pay,” Jose Nieto Barroso of the national police's human smuggling unit UCRIF told AFP.
Migrants gather in Morocco because “it's the best place to wait for the right moment to cross” over to Spain, said Nieto Barroso.
The vast majority pay for a spot on an inflatable dinghy or to take part in a mass run on the heavily fortified border fences that surround Ceuta and Melilla, two tiny Spanish territories in North Africa that share the EU's only land borders with Africa.
Human traffickers charge 18 euros ($21) to try to scale the border fences, 200-700 euros to join a packed boat to cross the narrow Strait of Gibraltar separating Spain from Morocco by just 15 kilometers (9 miles) at its narrowest point, or up to 5,000 euros to make the trip by jet ski, according to Spanish police.
Europol estimates migrants pay on average €3,000-5,000 for a complete trip to Europe.
Once in Spain, many want to move on to wealthier northern European countries like Britain, France and Germany where they believe they will have better opportunities, or because they already have family there.
Once again, human traffickers play a role in getting them there.
The smugglers promise migrants they will be rescued at sea by the Spanish coast guard and then taken to migrant reception centers where “in three or four days members of the network will be in the area and get you out,” Nieto Barroso said.
The gang will then take the migrants to another country or, in worst-case scenarios, pass them on to other gangs that exploit them.
Women are sometimes forced into prostitution while men are used as slave labor in agriculture or made to beg in the streets.
The rings “supply people. They say: 'I have 8, 12, 15 people from the sub-Sahara who can be put to work',” said Nieto Barroso.
Gangs take advantage of the “brutal collapse” of overcrowded migrant reception centers, and gain access to migrants through nonprofit organizations which work with the newcomers, he added.
Paloma Favieres of the Spanish Committee for Refugee Aid (CEAR) denounced the reception Spain gives migrants as “chaotic.”
She said she notifies police whenever she believes a migrant is at risk of falling prey to human traffickers but stressed it was up to police “to fight against crime.”
“I don't get any help from the police,” she told AFP.
With migrant arrivals to Spain's southern shores on the rise, more of them are heading north to the border town of Irun, some sleeping rough as they wait to cross into neighbouring France, or to Santander, where police in August arrested two people for hiding migrants in their vehicle which was going to board a ferry bound for Britain.
Police smashed 25 human trafficking rings in Spain last year but many more remain active in Africa, recruiting more migrants.