The nominated candidate for prime minister from the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Raja Pervez Ashraf (C) delivers a speech at parliament house in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan on June 22, 2012. Pakistan's National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament in the country, on Friday elected Raja Pervez Ashraf,a candidate from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, as the country's new prime minister, announced the National Assembly Speaker. [Xinhua/PID]
The newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Friday vowed to further enhance ties with China while addressing the National Assembly, the top legislature in the country.
He said that "Pakistan's friendship with China is higher than mountains and China has helped us in every hour of need and we would further enhance it."
Ashraf made the remarks while briefing his policy in his first speech as the new prime minister of the country.
On foreign affairs, the newly elected Prime Minister said that Pakistan wants peaceful relations with neighbors of Afghanistan, India and Iran and it would continue discussing all important issues including Kashmir with India.
Pakistan would further strengthen relations with the Muslim world, he said.
The prime minister referred briefly to the relationship with the United States in his speech and said that the relationship with the United States would be based on self determination.
On the domestic issues, Ashraf, who is also a senior member from Pakistan's ruling party PPP, said that his party would ensure an independent and transparent general election slated for the next March.
He urged opposition parties to confront the challenges faced by the country. He said that Pakistan can no more afford politics of confrontation.
"We parliamentarians should act as responsible citizens", he said, adding that PPP always supports politics of consensus.
He said Balochistan issue is his first priority after he became the prime minister and he would hold meeting with Baloch leaders.
Located in the country's southwest, Balochistan is the largest province which has long been plagued by separatists. Sectarian violence always occurs there daily.
Ashraf also asked terrorists in the country to lay down their weapons for peace talks. He said religious extremists have caused unrepairable loss to the country.
In response to Ashraf's speech, opposition candidate Mehtab Khan Abbasi said that as a former Minister for Water and Power, Ashraf has failed to tackle the electricity crisis in the country.
"Now as a prime minister, he would push the nation into the darkness of desperation," said Abbasi.
Ashraf become the 25th prime minister of Pakistan after he won an overwhelming victory in the National Assembly election held here on Friday night for the premiership that had been left vacant for three days following the disqualification of former Prime Minister Gilani by the Supreme Court on Tuesday due to his contempt of court orders to reopen the graft charges against President Zardari.