Shehbaz Sharif Elected as Pakistan’s Prime Minister

On March 3, 2024, Shehbaz Sharif was elected as the Prime Minister of Pakistan by the country’s National Assembly. This marks Sharif’s second term as Prime Minister after previously serving in the role from April 2022 to August 2023.

Controversial Elections Set Stage

The election of Sharif comes on the heels of controversial parliamentary elections held on February 8th. The elections were plagued by accusations of rigging and delayed results announcements. Former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party emerged with the most seats but has alleged that their mandate was stolen through electoral manipulation.
Nonetheless, a coalition led by Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won a majority of seats. With PTI legislators barred from the National Assembly for alleged election violations, Sharif comfortably prevailed in the Prime Minister vote by 201 votes to 92.

Tumultuous National Assembly Session

The election session in the National Assembly was filled with chaos as PTI-affiliated legislators shouted slogans and accusations of rigging. Sharif dismissed the claims in his victory speech, thanking his PML-N party and PPP allies for their support. He emphasized aims to bring political stability amid economic and security crises.
Opposition leader Omar Ayub Khan defended Imran Khan, who has been jailed since last August on convictions including revealing state secrets.

Sharif Political Dynasty Returns

The election marks the return of the prominent Sharif political dynasty. Shehbaz Sharif has taken over the PML-N leadership from his elder brother Nawaz Sharif, a three-time former Prime Minister. Nawaz returned from exile in 2022 hoping to regain power but remains ensnared by past corruption convictions.
With Shehbaz as Prime Minister, their niece Maryam Nawaz made history this month as the first female Chief Minister of Punjab province. Hence the Sharif family has regained a grip on power after Khan’s efforts to sideline them.

Challenges for the New Government

The new PML-N-led coalition government faces significant challenges, firstly to address the struggling economy. Soaring inflation, depleting foreign reserves, and a spiraling currency crisis have put Pakistan in danger of debt default. Securing an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout deal will be an early priority.

Secondly, the government must tackle rampant militancy and attacks by the Pakistan Taliban (TTP). The Taliban have exploited the political turmoil, launching their deadliest year on record in 2022. Improving security and counterterrorism capacity is critical.

Finally, the government must contend with the civil disobedience campaign launched by Imran Khan’s PTI party. Khan is demanding fresh elections which the government has rejected.


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