By Aamir Latif
Cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan was sworn in as the 22nd prime minister on Saturday with the country entangled in a string of political and economic challenges.
President Mamnoon Hussain administered oath to Khan at the presidency in capital Islamabad during a ceremony that saw the attendance of the First lady Bushra Bibi, outgoing Caretaker Premier Nasir-ul-Mulk, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, navy and air force chiefs, and other dignitaries.
Donned in a black Sherwani -- a traditional Pakistani dress -- Khan together with his wife -- clad in white burqa -- stepped down the stage and mixed with the guests to receive greetings amid loud clapping.
Several members of the national cricket team that won the 1992 World and famous Indian cricketer Novjut Sindhu also attended the ceremony.
Khan later went to the Prime Minister House where he was given a guard of honor.
Khan's center-right Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had emerged as the single majority party but it still lacked a simple majority in the July 25 elections, which was tainted by rigging allegations leveled by opposition parties, and some international observers.
The PTI secured 158 seats in 342-member house -- 14 seats short of a simple majority -- a composition that left him with no other option but to seek support of several smaller parties, some of which were his staunch opponents in the recent past.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of the jailed ex-premier Nawaz Sharif trailed in second with 82 seats, whereas the center-left Pakistan People’s Party, and a five-party religious alliance, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal had grabbed 53 and 15 seats, respectively.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Saturday welcomed the newly-elected Pakistani premier.
“For over 70 years, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been a vital one," she said in a statement.
The U.S. hopes to work with Pakistan’s new government to promote peace and prosperity in the country and the region, she added.