Pakistan’s World Cup cricket hero Imran Khan will be sworn in as prime minister next week, his party said Friday, announcing it has the numbers to form a coalition government in the nuclear-armed nation.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said the entire squad that Khan captained to victory in the 1992 World Cup were invited to the ceremony, as well as Indian cricket greats Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and Navjot Singh Sidhu.
PTI emerged victorious in the July 25 elections, the country’s second-ever democratic transition of power, but fell short of an outright majority.
The party confirmed Friday that it has secured the numbers for a majority in the lower house of parliament.
“In a historic moment, Imran Khan will take the oath (as prime minister) on August 18,” Faisal Javed Khan, a PTI senator and Khan’s close aide, said in televised comments in Islamabad.
Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain has called a session of the new National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, starting August 13.
Earlier, India’s high commissioner in Pakistan Ajay Bisaria called on Khan and congratulated him on his victory.
“Discussed the need to restart dialogue between Pak & India on all outstanding issues including Kashmir,” Khan’s spokeswoman Anila Khawaja told AFP after the meeting.
The Indian high commission tweeted that Bisaria had gifted Khan a cricket bat autographed by the entire Indian national team.
Besides tense relations with India, Khan’s government — once in power — will have to tackle other difficult challenges including a looming balance of payments crisis, unrest on the Afghan border, and water scarcity.
Khan brings charisma and international name recognition, but running the country will take considerable statecraft from his relatively inexperienced party.
He has already vowed to rebalance Islamabad’s relationship with the US, months after US President Donald Trump suspended security aid over Islamabad’s alleged failure to target militancy along its borders.