Nawaz Sharif returns to power

Published June 5, 2013
Pakistan's incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. - File Photo
Pakistan's incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. - File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Nawaz Sharif of the PML-N was elected the country’s 18th prime minister in a race which also featured Pakistan Peoples Party’s Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf’s Javed Hashmi. The PML-N chief is scheduled to take oath from President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday evening.

Sharif won the office by bagging 244 votes with his rivals Fahim and Hashmi securing 42 and 31 votes respectively.

Sharif returned to power after surviving a military coup, a seven-year exile to Saudi Arabia and a government dismissal. His party secured majority in the May 11 elections making him the only leader to assume power for the third time amid hopes and promises that he will steer the country out of crisis.

During his campaign for the May 11 elections, 62-year-old Sharif had vowed that his party would turn Pakistan into a new, modern and developed country if the people voted it to power. The PML-N chief has also been vocal on the issue of Balochistan and missing persons. He supports friendly relations with India and opposes the United States’ policy on drone strikes.

Calling terrorism a challenge for the country, the PML-N chief is also in favour of peace talks with the Taliban.

In his recent interviews and press conferences, Sharif has repeatedly said that the first priorities of his government will be to resolve the energy crisis by reducing load-shedding and improving the country’s economy. He has also made a number of promises regarding construction of roads, motorways and airports at various places during election rallies, besides running a bullet train for the country. These pledges have led to an unprecedented rise in the stock market.

However, analysts believe that his actions should reflect the promises he made during the election campaign.

The incoming federal cabinet

Earlier on Tuesday, Dawn.com received a list of names for the future federal cabinet.

Senior PML-N leaders Ishaq Dar, Chaudhary Nisar, Ahsan Iqbal, Khurram Dastigir and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and PML-F’s Saduruddin Rashadi will be handling major portfolios.

According to the list, the following names have been selected for the ministerial slots: Ishaq Dar for finance, Chaudhary Nisar for interior, Pervez Rashid for information, Khurram Dastagir for trade, Murtaza Jatoi for overseas Pakistanis, Ahsan Iqbal as IT Minister, Zahid Hamid for law, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for petroleum and natural resources, Sadaruddin Rashdi for development, Sardar Yousuf for food security and Kamran Michael for minority affairs.

The names of Tariq Fazl Chaudhry, Anusha Rehman and Saira Afzal are also on the list for federal ministerial slots.

Meanwhile, Tariq Fatemi’s name is also present as adviser on foreign affairs

PML-N’s nominees, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Murtaza Javed Abbasi, were elected as the NA speaker and deputy speaker on Monday, both securing 258 votes.

Sharif’s political background

Sharif started his political career in 1980 and served first as Punjab’s finance minister and later as chief minister. He became prime minister for the first time in November 1990 in the mid-term general elections held after the dissolution of a PPP government, led by late Benazir Bhutto.

He, however, was ousted by the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1993 because of political differences between the two. Although the Supreme Court restored his government, he resigned from the office and dissolved the NA, paving way for new elections as a result of which Bhutto became prime minister for the second time.

When elections were held in 1997 after dissolution of the second PPP government by the then president Sardar Farooq Leghari, Sharif became prime minister for the second time after his PML-N acquired a two-thirds majority.

Sharif also entered into a conflict with then chief justice Syed Sajjad Ali Shah and faced contempt of court charges which were later dismissed. It was during Sharif’s second term in government that the country conducted nuclear tests in 1998, days after India had carried out its own.

Later Sharif developed differences with his newly-appointed army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf on the Kargil issue. This conflict resulted in the ouster of his government in a bloodless military coup by Gen Musharraf on Oct 12, 1999, after a day of dramatic events.

He was subsequently arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court in April 2000 on two counts of hijacking and terrorism over the diversion of Gen Musharraf’s plane when it was low on fuel.

A deal was later negotiated by the late Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri and Sharif’s sentence was commuted to exile in Saudi Arabia.

He returned to Pakistan in November 2007, a month after Bhutto’s homecoming, and resumed political activities.

In the 2008 elections, his party won about a quarter of the National Assembly seats and went on to form a coalition government with the PPP both at the centre and in Punjab.

However, due to disagreements over reinstatement of judges deposed by Musharraf and unilateral nomination of Asif Zardari as a presidential candidate, the PML-N withdrew from the PPP-led coalition and joined the opposition at the centre.

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