Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
|Shahid Khaqan Abbasi|
|Prime Minister of Pakistan|
1 August 2017
|Preceded by||Nawaz Sharif|
|Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources|
7 June 2013 – 28 July 2017
|Prime Minister||Nawaz Sharif|
|Preceded by||Asim Hussain|
|Succeeded by||Himself (Energy)|
|Minister for Commerce|
31 March 2008 – 13 May 2008
|Prime Minister||Yousaf Raza Gillani|
|Preceded by||Humayun Akhtar Khan|
|Succeeded by||Ameen Faheem|
|Chair of Pakistan International Airlines|
27 December 1997 – 12 October 1999
|Prime Minister||Nawaz Sharif|
|Preceded by||Farooq Umar|
|Succeeded by||Ahmad Saeed|
|Member of the National Assembly
for Constituency NA-50
|Preceded by||Ghulam Murtaza Satti|
|Majority||2008: 99,987 (48%)
2013: 134,439 (54%)
|Member of the National Assembly
for Constituency NA-36
|Preceded by||Khaqan Abbasi|
|Succeeded by||Ghulam Murtaza Satti|
|Majority||1988: 47,295 (34%)
1990: 80,305 (59%)
1993: 76,596 (56%)
1997: 65,194 (58%)
|Born||27 December 1958
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
|Political party||Pakistan Muslim League (N)|
|Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (1988–1990)|
|Relatives||Sadia Abbasi (Sister)|
|Alma mater||Lawrence College
University of California, Los Angeles
George Washington University
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (Urdu: شاہد خاقان عباسی; born 27 December 1958) is a Pakistani politician who has been the Prime Minister of Pakistan since August 2017. A member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N), Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has been a Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan since 2008 and previously had been a member from 1988 to 1999.
Born in 1958 in Karachi to Khaqan Abbasi, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was educated at Lawrence College, Murree. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, before obtaining a master’s degree from George Washington University. Prior to entering politics, he worked as a engineer in various projects in the United States and the Middle East.
Shahid Khaqan started his political career after the death of his father in 1988, and since then Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has been elected a Member of the National Assembly six times for Constituency NA-50 (Rawalpindi). After the PML-N victory in the 1997 general election, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi served as Chairman of Pakistan International Airlines until the 1999 Pakistani coup d’état.
After the formation of a coalition government following the 2008 general election, he was briefly the Minister for Commerce in the Gillani ministry. After the 2013 general election, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi became the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources in the third Sharif ministry, where he served from 2013 until the disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after the Panama Papers case decision in July 2017. In August 2017, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took the office of Prime Minister.
Early life and education
Abbasi was born on 27 December 1958 in Karachi, Sindh, to Khaqan Abbasi. According to some Pakistani daily newspapers, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was born in his hometown of Murree in Rawalpindi District, Punjab.
Shahid was educated in Karachi before enrolling at Lawrence College in Murree. In 1978, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. Following this, he began a career as an electrical engineer. In 1985, he attended George Washington University, where he gained a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering.
After graduating from George Washington University, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi became a professional electrical engineer. He worked in the United States during the 1980s before moving to Saudi Arabia, where he worked on energy projects in the oil and gas industry.
First term: 1988–90
Abbasi’s political career began after the death of his father Khaqan Abbasi in 1988. In May 1988, President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haqsacked the government of his handpicked Prime Minister, Muhammad Khan Junejo, and prematurely dissolved the National Assembly. Consequently, new parliamentary elections were called for 16 November 1988. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi ran for the National Assembly seat from Constituency NA-36 (Rawalpindi-I),[a] which had been held by his father until his death.
Shahid Abbasi was elected with 47,295 votes as an independent candidate. He acquired Rawalpindi’s National Assembly seat for the first time at the age of 30 by defeating both Raja Zafar ul Haq, a candidate of Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Raja Muhammad Anwar by a narrow margin. After winning the election he joined the IJI, which was newly founded in September 1988 by then Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence to counter the PPP. His tenure as a Member of the National Assembly terminated after the National Assembly was dissolved prematurely in August 1990 following the dismissal of the government of Benazir Bhutto by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
Second, third and fourth term: 1990–99
New parliamentary elections were called for 24 October 1990. Abbasi ran for a National Assembly seat as a candidate of IJI and was successfully re-elected from Constituency NA-36 (Rawalpindi-I). He received 80,305 votes against 54,011 votes for PPP candidate Raja Muhammad Anwar. Upon the victory of IJI in the 1990 national election, he was made Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, a post he retained until the dissolution of the National Assembly in April 1993 with the dismissal of the Nawaz Sharif government by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
New snap elections were called for 6 October 1993. Abbasi ran for a National Assembly seat as a candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N) and was re-elected for the third time from Constituency NA-36 (Rawalpindi-I). He secured 76,596 votes against the PPP candidate, retired Colonel Habib Khan, who received 45,173 votes. As a Member of the National Assembly, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi performed his duties as the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly on Defence. His tenure was terminated with the dissolution of the National Assembly in 1996 following the dismissal of the Benazir Bhutto government by President Farooq Leghari.
National Assembly seat
New parliamentary elections were called for 3 February 1997, and Abbasi successfully retained his National Assembly seat as a candidate of the PML-N from Constituency NA-36 (Rawalpindi-I) for the fourth time. He defeated Pakistan Muslim League (J)candidate Babar Awan and independent candidate Javed Iqbal Satti by securing 65,194 votes. PML-N won a clear majority in the National Assembly for the first time. That same year, he was appointed as the chairman of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Fifth and sixth term: 2002–13
General elections were held on 10 October 2002 under Musharraf. Abbasi was the PML-N candidate for the Constituency NA-50 (Rawalpindi) seat, but Shahid Khaqan Abbasi lost to PPP candidate Ghulam Murtaza Satti with 63,797 votes (37.21%) to 74,259 (43.31%). Abbasi indicated that the exile of Sharif disappointed the people, due to which PML-N only won 19 out of 342 seats in the National Assembly. People from his constituency claim he contested the election unwillingly, explaining why he lost it. After his defeat, he distanced himself from politics to focus on Airblue Limited, which he founded in 2003.
He served as its first chairman until 2007 and then went on to become its chief operating officer. Abbasi was considered amongst the PML-N leaders who had contacts with the military at that time and, while there is no evidence that Abbasi used his links and relationships with the military for political purposes, he is said to have used the names of some generals to some extent for benefits. He is also said to have had close contacts with Shujaat Hussain, leader of the then ruling party, and from whom Abbasi gained support for his airline.
After the formation of a coalition government between PPP and PML-N with Yousaf Raza Gillanias Prime Minister, Abbasi was inducted into the federal cabinet of Gillani with the status of a federal minister in March 2008 and was appointed as the Minister for Commerce. However, his tenure as Minister for Commerce was short-lived after the PML-N left the PPP-led coalition government in May 2008 to lead the movement to impeach Pervez Musharraf and to restore the judiciary after the coalition failed to restore the judiciary, as agreed between PML-N and PPP in the Bhurban Accord.
As Minister for Petroleum
After the completion of a five-year PPP government, an election was scheduled for 11 May 2013. Abbasi ran for a seat in the National Assembly as a candidate of the PML-N and successfully retained his seat from Constituency NA-50 (Rawalpindi) for the sixth time with 134,439 votes. Upon the victory of PML-N in the 2013 national election, he was inducted into the federal cabinet and was appointed as the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources. He was give the task of ending the energy crisis in Pakistan.
 The Express Tribune described the LNG project as successful and one of the cheapest regasifications in the world. He also denied the corruption allegations. Abbasi ceased to hold the ministerial office of Petroleum and Natural Resources on 28 July 2017 when the Sharif cabinet was disbanded following his disqualification by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the Panama Papers case decision. According to BBC Urdu, Abbasi had not became a part of any major political or financial controversy throughout his time in a ministerial office which is considered a high-profile cabinet slot.
Nawaz Sharif resigned as Prime Minister on 29 July 2017 and nominated his brother Shehbaz Sharif as his successor, but as Shehbaz was not a member of the National Assembly, he could not be immediately sworn in as Prime Minister. Therefore, Abbasi was chosen by Sharif as a temporary Prime Minister for 45 days, which would allow two months time for Shehbaz to contest elections from Nawaz’s vacated constituency in Lahore, be elected to the National Assembly, and become eligible to be Prime Minister.
On 1 August 2017, Abbasi was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan by the National Assembly, defeating his rival Naveed Qamar of the PPP by 221 votes to 47. Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (F) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement also supported his election. Addressing the National Assembly after his election, he said, “I may be here for 45 days or 45 hours, but I’m not here to keep the seat warm. I intend to work and get some important things done.” On that same day, he was sworn in as the Prime Minister in an oath-taking ceremony at the Presidency Palace.
After he took charge, Nawaz Sharif decided that Shehbaz Sharif would remain in Punjab and Abbasi would continue as Prime Minister until the June 2018 general election. According to Rana Sanaullah Khan, PML-N senior leadership feared that if Shahbaz Sharif left the post of Chief Ministership of Punjab it would weaken the party’s hold in the country’s most populous province, which has 183 out of the 342 seats in the National Assembly and plays a crucial role in determining the future government in Pakistan.
After assuming the office as the Prime Minister, Abbasi, in consultation with Sharif, formed a 43-member cabinet. Of the 43 ministers sworn in on 4 August 2017, 27 were federal ministers and 16 were ministers of state. Except Nisar Ali Khan, Abbasi retained the entire members of the cabinet of his predecessor Nawaz Sharif most of whom retained their previous portfolios. Nisar Ali Khan who was Minister for Interior in the previous cabinet refused to join the cabinet of Abbasi, citing differences with the leaders of PML-N.
The cabinet was criticised by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for its large size, but it was praised by The Nation. Reuters said that the cabinet “appears aimed at bolstering support” ahead of the general election. The second part of his cabinet, consisting of two federal ministers and two ministers of state, was sworn in on 10 August 2017, increasing the size of the cabinet to 47. On 13 August 2017, his cabinet was further expanded after he appointed six advisers.
On the following day, five special assistants to the Prime Minister were appointed, thus increasing the cabinet size to 58. He justified the large size of his cabinet by saying that “he had limited experience of running the affairs of the government, and therefore required more ministers, advisers and special assistants.” Two more advisors were added to the federal cabinet on 23 August 2017.
Abbasi appointed Khawaja Muhammad Asif as a full-time Minister for Foreign Affairs, the first since PML-N came into power in the 2013 general election. The appointment of a full-time Foreign Affair’s Minister was welcomed by Pakistan Today and the Daily Times. Previously, Nawaz Sharif had held the portfolio of the Minister for Foreign Affairs himself and was criticised for not appointing a full-fledged Foreign Minister. He also inducted a Hindu parliamentarian, Darshan Punshi, into the federal cabinet, the first in more than 20 years.
Policies and initiatives
In his first speech , Shahid Khaqan Abbasi announced that security, tax reform, agriculture, education & health would be his top concerns. He vowed to continue the policies of his predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, calling him the “people’s prime minister” on the floor of the National Assembly. In his maiden speech, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi specifically promised to widen the tax net and called for banning automatic firearms across the country. He said “Those who do not pay taxes and live a luxurious life will have to pay taxes now.”
Amongst the seven new ministries created by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the creation of the long-awaited Ministry of Energy was praised. The Ministry of Energy was part of PML-N’s 2013 election manifesto, however its formation had been delayed. Abbasi kept the cabinet portfolio of Energy Minister himself which was created by the merger of the power wing of the Ministry of Water and Power and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, an office Shahid Khaqan Abbasi held before becoming Prime Minister. It was noted that formation of the Energy Ministry was the first step to solve the financial issues in the power sector.
First meeting of the energy sector
Chairing the first meeting of the energy sector as PM. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that he would reduce the usage of thermal power plants. He directed that maximum usage of coal reserves in the Thar coalfield and promised to end power outages in the country by November 2017. Reuters noted that Pakistan’s embrace of LNG for which Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has advocated since PML-N form government in June 2013, has largely been successful.
On 27 August, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inaugurated the Pakistan’s first LNG terminal at Port Qasim in Karachi, a terminal which began operating in March 2015 and for which Abbasi take credit as the former Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources. On 20 November, Abbasi inaugurated the second LNG terminal at Port Qasim in Karachi making the country’s total LNG import to 1.2 billion cubic feet per day. At the inauguration ceremony of the second LNG terminal, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the government is committed to resolve the country’s power crises and LNG importation has helped overcoming the issues of power shortages.
Immediately after taking office, Abbasi made himself the head of major cabinet committees dealing with economic matters, including those that fall under the domain of Finance Minister, in order to consolidate more power and to get a grip on financial issues. This usurpation minimized the powers of the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who was once considered as a de-facto deputy Prime Minister under Nawaz Sharif.
On 26 August, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi approved the results of the 2017 Census of Pakistan with a total population of the country excluding of that of Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir at 207.77 million. On 28 August, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi restructured the eight member Council of Common Interests by increasing the seats of members from Punjab from two to four, making the council Punjab-dominated.
Development of the construction
To speed up the development of the construction projects related to China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also kept the cabinet portfolio of Ministry of Planning and Development after becoming the Prime Minister followed by forming a cabinet committee on 31 August to hold more power which eventually made the role of ministry irrelevant over CPEC-related work. But after China expressed reservations, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on 16 September assigned the portfolio back to incumbent interior minister Ahsan Iqbal who headed the Ministry of Planning and Development in the previous cabinet.
The first 30 days of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in office suggested that he would prefer an “as-usual routine” contrary to the expectations of business community and the bureaucracy which had initially hoped for policy changes that would attempt to resolve the outstanding issues the country was facing. Since the next general election was scheduled ten months into Abbasi’s tenure as Prime Minister, it was noted that Abbasi would carry forward the policies and development agenda of his predecessor Nawaz Sharif and might not opt for major changes before the election when the term of the Parliament elected in 2013 was due to expire.
After the announcement of a new policy on Afghanistan by United States President Donald Trump, during which he accused Pakistan of supporting state terrorism, Abbasi made his first foreign trip as Prime Minister, going to Saudi Arabia on 23 August 2017 to discuss the new U.S. policy with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and to further strengthen the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, with Pakistan’s relationship with the United States being strained.
In September 2017, Abbasi travelled to the United States to speak at the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly. During the visit, he met with Vice President Mike Pence and with Trump. Abbasi also met President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and President of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the assembly.
On 1 December, Abbasi travelled to Russia to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit where he met Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, Premier of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang and Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sapar Isakov.
After Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Abbasi attended the emergency conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Jerusalem in Turkey on 12 December, where he condemned Trump’s decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem and urged the United States to withdraw its decision.
Family and personal life
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi belongs to a wealthy political family from Kahuta. However, he hails from Dewal village. He belongs to the Dhund Abbasi clan, which is predominant in northern Punjab.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is married and has three sons. His father, Khaqan Abbasi, was an air commodore in the Pakistan Air Force. He entered politics and became a Member of the National Assembly and was inducted as the Federal Minister for Production in the cabinet of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, until his death in 1988 at Ojhri Camp in a military accident that resulted in more than 100 casualties. His brother, Zahid Abbasi, was also injured in that incident, after which he went into coma and died in 2005, having remained bedridden for 17 years. His sister Sadia Abbasi has been a member of the Senate of Pakistan. His father-in-law, General Muhammad Riaz Abbasi, was the director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from 1977 to 1979.
He is also an aviation enthusiast and an amateur skydiver. He is the first Prime Minister of Pakistan to participate in a Pakistan Air Force mission by flying in a F-16 Fighting Falcon and a military helicopter. In an interview, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said he has been a pilot for 40+ years. In December 2017, he became the first prime minister of Pakistan to board a submarine in the open sea where he conducted submarine diving and surfacing procedures which earned him Pakistan Navy insignia worn by qualified submariners.
He is said to be a reserved, media-shy person.
Abbasi is a businessman and an aviation expert. He is the owner of Airblue, which he founded in 2003, but in 2016 he denied being a stakeholder, saying he has not visited the airline’s office for years. He is one of the richest parliamentarians in Pakistan, with a net worth of ₨1.3 billion to ₨2.3 billion. His assets include shares in Airblue, a house in Islamabad, a restaurant business, and land properties in Murree.
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|Chair of Pakistan International Airlines
Humayun Akhtar Khan
|Minister for Commerce
|Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources
as Minister for Energy
|Prime Minister of Pakistan