LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Sardar Usman Buzdar was sworn in as Punjab Chief Minister on Monday, formally ending the 10-year rule of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif.
Acting Governor Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi administered oath to Buzdar and felicitated him for assuming the office of the chief minister.
The chief minister was presented a guard of honour by police as he came to his office. Officers and staff members also welcomed the new chief minister.
On Sunday, Buzdar was opposed by PML-N candidate Hamza Shehbaz, son of former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif, for the top office. As much as 186 members of provincial assembly voted for PTI candidate while Hamza garnered only 159 votes.
The Punjab Assembly session was chaired by Speaker Pervaiz Elahi and PML-N’s MPAs, present in the assembly with black armbands, surrounded the speaker’s dice as he signalled the start of the proceedings.
Following his win, Buzdar addressed the assembly and vowed to resolve Punjab’s issues. Responding to his maiden speech as the chief minister, Hamza said that he appreciated the democratic transition but also alleged “with a heavy heart, that the government’s mandate is marred by rigging”.
Earlier, on Saturday, Buzdar was given the go-ahead by the Punjab Assembly Secretariat to contest the election following allegations that the PTI nominee had faced a corruption probe and was also acquitted in the murder of six persons in 1998 after allegedly paying blood money. Hamza Shehbaz’s nomination papers were also cleared by the assembly officials after scrutiny.
Buzdar was elected as a member of Punjab Assembly from PP-286 constituency of Dera Ghazi Khan’s tribal Taunsa town in the 2018 general elections. He had garnered 26,897 votes and defeated independent candidate Khawaja Muhammad Nizamul Mehmood.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a video message on Friday, had announced Buzdar’s name for the post of Punjab chief minister. Khan had extended his full support to the incoming chief minister despite some eyebrows being raised.
According to sources, the decision to nominate Buzdar was taken after he held an important meeting with Imran Khan and PTI leader Jahangir Tareen in Bani Gala. Imran also consulted Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, who too endorsed Buzdar’s nomination.
Earlier, Buzdar remained a member of PML-Q from 2002-2008 and later switched to PML-N. In 2013, he contested the elections on PML-N’s ticket but lost to a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) candidate.