September 5, 2018 Off By Web Desk

Pakistan elected a close ally of Prime Minister Imran Khan as its new president, further cementing the ruling party’s power after a general election victory.

Former dentist Arif Alvi, one of the founders of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, will replace Mamnoon Hussain after the Tuesday vote by more than a thousand lawmakers from both houses of parliament and the four provincial assemblies.

Former cricket champion Khan became prime minister last month following his party’s victory in the mid-July parliamentary elections.

State-run Pakistan television announced the unofficial results just over an hour after the voting ended Tuesday, with Alvi claiming victory in televised remarks. The official result is expected to be announced by the election commission on Wednesday.

Alvi told reporters he was thankful to God, and vowed to be a president for all of Pakistan. TV footage showed him shaking hands with parliamentarians after the vote, with many handing him sweets in celebration.

Hussain, a close ally of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, had kept a low profile during his tenure.

Alvi, a father of four and active Twitter user, was shot and wounded during a protest against military dictator Ayub Khan in Lahore in 1969. He still has a bullet embedded in his right arm.

He studied at the University of Michigan and the University of the Pacific in San Francisco, as well as in Lahore, before making a career as a dentist and then entering politics.

He served as PTI’s secretary general for eight years from 2006, and was elected an MP in the southern megacity of Karachi in 2013, winning re-election in the July vote.

Alvi’s opponent Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, an opposition party backed by the ousted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), came second in the vote.