Shehbaz Sharif to be Pakistan Prime Minister

Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif is set to assume the role of Prime Minister of Pakistan a week after 176 out of 342 lawmakers of the National Assembly voted against former premier Imran Khan in a dramatic no-confidence motion resulting in his unceremonious exit.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Zardari, 68, is slated to become the country’s President again. Shehbaz Sharif was prime minister from 2022 to 2023 while Asif  Zardari was the country’s President from 2008 to 2013.

Political Disruption

The regime change followed high political drama with Khan unsuccessfully attempting to sidestep the vote by recommending immediate dissolution of assemblies and calling for fresh elections. But Pakistan Supreme Court overturned his move restoring the no-trust process clinically maneuvered by joint opposition mounting serious challenge to his authoritarian style of functioning.

New Ruling Coalition at Helm

Shehbaz Sharif has assumed power with a fragile coalition including two long-time political rivals PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party besides sizeable faction dissidents from Khan’s Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaaf along with smaller groups. Maintaining smooth alliance dynamics poses immediate challenge.

Core Focus Areas for New Government

With pressing economic mess encompassing high inflation touching 13%, depleting foreign exchange reserves covering only two months imports and billions in sovereign debts payable, the Shehbaz administration needs urgent remedial measures like removing subsidies on petroleum, gas and electricity on cards along with belt tightening expenditures to obtain IMF package.

Foreign Policy Challenges

On external affairs front, repairing ties with the United States remains urgent diplomatic priority given estranged relations under former PM Khan who preferred realigning towards China and Russia while adopting conflictual posturing on Afghanistan front.

Early Elections Probability

With wafer thin legislative backing in context of allegations over American conspiracy orchestrating regime change operation against Khan regime in violation of democracy norms by PTI, possibilities of early dissolution and elections by end of 2024 remains high.

 


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