Islamabad: Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan was sworn in at a ceremony in Islamabad on Saturday, ushering in a new political era as the World Cup cricket hero officially took the reins of power in the nuclear-armed country.
The ceremony at the President's House in the capital marks the end of decades of rotating leadership between the ousted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), punctuated by periods of army rule.
Following Imran Khan’s official appointment as Prime Minister, current wife and first lady Bushra Maneka expressed she was afraid rather than happy. “I am sure Imran Khan will fulfill his promises to Pakistan. Allah has given us a great responsibility. Power comes and goes. Imran Khan aims to eliminate poverty from the country. He wants to improve the health and education system in Pakistan,” she was quoted as saying by Pakistan today.
A tearful Khan, clad in a traditional black sherwani, smiled as he stumbled over some of the words of the oath administered to him by President Mamnoon Hussain during the ceremony, televised live by the state broadcaster PTV.
He swore to "bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan", and to "discharge my duties and perform my functions honestly, to the best of my ability… and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of Pakistan".
The 65-year-old former cricketer, who captained Pakistan to World Cup victory in 1992, had won a confidence vote in the National Assembly the previous day.
In parliament, on Friday he came out fighting with a divisive speech in which he vowed to hold corrupt officials accountable.
The July 25 election that brought his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party to power was branded "Pakistan's dirtiest", with accusations throughout the campaign that the military was trying to tilt the playing field in Khan's favour.
The army and Khan have denied claims from rival parties of "blatant" vote rigging.
Khan's third wife, Bushra Bibi — formerly known as Bushra Maneka — kept her eyes cast modestly downwards during Saturday's ceremony.
It was her first public appearance since their wedding earlier this year, and she appeared escorted by tight security and covered from head to toe in a white niqab, a conservative garment by Pakistani standards.
Khan had invited the rest of the 1992 cricket team to the ceremony, and fast bowler Wasim Akram was pictured smiling among the crowd.
Another cricketer-turned-politician, India's Navjot Singh Sidhu, was seated in the front row and earlier warmly embraced the powerful Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Later, Khan went to the Prime Minister's house in the capital, where he was met by a guard of honour.