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Pakistan's newly elected lawmaker and former president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, centre, arrives to attend the first session of the lower house of parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018.

Pakistan's newly elected parliament meets for the 1st time

Mon, August 13, 2018 13:28

ISLAMABAD, August 13, 2018 (News Wires) — Pakistan's newly elected parliament convened on Monday for the first time since last month's general elections that saw the party of former cricket star turned politician Imran Khan win most seats, propelling him towards the post of the country's next prime minister.

The lawmakers were sworn in at a brief ceremony in the 342-seat National Assembly, the decision-making lower house of parliament. Later on Monday, fireworks are to mark the eve of Pakistan's Independence Day.

The parliament is to elect a speaker and his deputy on Wednesday and vote on the prime minister the following day. The swearing-in ceremony for the prime minister is due Saturday.

Khan's populist Tahreek-e-Insaf party won 115 seats in the July 25 vote, requiring it to form a coalition.

In the days after the elections, party spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said more lawmakers joined the party's ranks and that it now enjoys the backing of 180 parliament members after several women lawmakers, minority and independents sided with Khan. He needs 172 lawmaker votes to be become prime minister.

Khan has campaigned on the promise of a "New Pakistan" with justice for all, pledging to wipe out corruption and help the poor. He has said he would run the country like it has never been run before, though some of his popular and influential backers, who joined his party weeks before the elections, have questionable pasts and some of them even face charges.

The 65-year-old Khan has also promised to create 10 million jobs in Pakistan, where employment rate is high and more than 65 percent of the country's 200 million people are under the age of 35.

Since the elections, Khan has adopted a conciliatory approach to Pakistan's neighbours and allies, saying he wants peace with hostile neighbour India, praising China's economic strategy for reducing widespread poverty and sending a message to Washington that he wants good relations, based on mutual respect.

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