Pakistan: PML-N Leader Maryam Nawaz Becomes First Woman Chief Minister Of Province In Country

Pakistan: PML-N Leader Maryam Nawaz Becomes First Woman Chief Minister Of Province In Country

Maryam, the 50-year-old senior vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, won the chief ministerial elections amidst a walkout by lawmakers of former prime minister Imran Khan's party-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC).

PTIUpdated: Monday, February 26, 2024, 03:45 PM IST
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Senior PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, on Monday, became the first-ever woman chief minister of a province in Pakistan when she was elected to head the Punjab province, describing it as an 'honour' for every woman in the country.

Maryam, the 50-year-old senior vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, won the chief ministerial elections amidst a walkout by lawmakers of former prime minister Imran Khan's party-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC).

In her maiden speech at the provincial legislature, Maryam thanked God, her father, Nawaz Sharif, uncle Shehbaz Sharif and the lawmakers who voted for her.

Maryam said that she was happy to sit in the seat where her father used to sit. "My father trained me how to run the office," Maryam, considered the political heir of Nawaz Sharif, said.

"Today, every woman of the province is proud to see a woman chief minister," she said and hoped that the tradition of female leadership would continue in the future as well.

The PML-N leader said she had seen hard times like imprisonment but was thankful to her opponents for making her strong.

"But I will not seek revenge," she said, indirectly referring to former Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar.

Maryam received 220 votes and won the chief ministerial elections for the politically crucial Punjab province, home to 120 million people. She defeated Rana Aftab of the PTI-backed SIC, who received no votes as his party boycotted the election.

"The votes have been counted according to which Maryam has obtained 220 votes, and SIC candidate Rana Aftab Aftab secured zero votes," said newly-elected Speaker Malik Ahmad Khan while presiding over the session.

To win the chief minister's election, a candidate needs to win the backing of the majority, which is 187 members in the House that currently has 327 seats, according to Geo News. The newly-elected chief minister, Maryam, enjoyed the support of the majority in the House.

The PTI-backed SIC's 103 members have taken oath from its total 113 lawmakers in the Punjab Assembly. Maryam was backed by PML-N allies, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), and the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP).

The walkout by at least 103 SIC members -- including the PTI-backed independent lawmakers -- was staged after the SIC nominee for chief minister, Aftab, was not permitted to speak at the point of order.

"In today's session, only elections will be held for the chief minister. You cannot speak in today's session," Speaker Khan told the SIC candidate as he tried to speak up.

The speaker eventually moved forward with the proceedings to elect a new leader of the House after efforts to bring back the boycotting lawmakers went in vain, according to Dawn newspaper.

Before boycotting the session, the opposition chanted slogans of "Queen of Mandate Thieves" as the PTI claimed that Maryam had lost his seat with a margin of over 800 votes in the February 8 polls besides the party's over 100 Punjab Assembly seats that had been stolen. It decried that the irony is a "defeated" candidate has become chief minister.

Taking a swipe at the walkout by the SIC lawmakers, Maryam said, "Today, I am upset that the respectable members of the opposition benches are not present here [.] I wish they would be a part of the political and democratic process." She said that despite several challenges and difficulties, her party members and the PML-N never left the ground empty.

"If the opposition was present today, and if they had protested during my speech, I would have been happy," she said.

Meanwhile, the PTI nominee for the chief ministerial post, Aftab, said, "It seems as if dictatorship persists even today," according to the report.

Speaking to the media in Lahore as the Punjab Assembly voted for the new leader of the House, Aftba said, "I am a political worker [.] the way I had to pass from there [the assembly], this is shameful for me, and it is also a moment of reflection for all politicians." He added that the PTI wanted justice as per the law and Constitution to take "this manoeuvred democracy forward".

Maryam paid a visit to her mother's grave at Jati Umra before going to the Punjab Assembly, where the election for the post of Chief Minister took place.

In a post on X, the PML-N said Maryam also visited the graves of her paternal grandparents.

"For the first time in the history of our nation, a woman will become the CM Punjab. Maryam Nawaz Sharif will be the first woman to take the oath as CM Punjab!" the PML-N said in a post on X earlier in the day.

Senior PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah, while speaking to the media outside the Punjab Assembly, has said that Maryam will carry her father, Nawaz Sharif, and uncle Shehbaz Sharif's legacy as Punjab chief minister, Geo News reported.

Terming the need to address prevailing political instability as the "biggest challenge", Sanaullah said that everyone, including the bureaucracy, would cooperate with Maryam during her term as the chief minister.

Maryam is considered the political heir of the 74-year-old PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, who surprisingly nominated his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif, 72, as his party's prime ministerial candidate.

The PML-N clinched both speaker and deputy speaker offices in the Punjab Assembly.

In a marathon session of the Punjab Assembly on Saturday, the lawmakers elected PML-N leader Malik Ahmad Khan as the custodian of the House and Zaheer Iqbal Channar as his deputy.

The PML-N won 137 seats, while independents backed by 71-year-old Khan's PTI party won 113 in the Punjab Assembly. Separately, 20-odd independents, not PTI-backed, have already joined the PML-N.

The PTI-backed independent candidates have joined the SIC to get reserved seats for women and minorities besides saving their elected members from being forced to change their loyalty by the military establishment.

However, the SIC may not get reserved seats for women and minorities, leaving the PML-N with a simple majority in Punjab.

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