Shehbaz Sharif elected prime minister for 2nd time, vows to steer Pakistan ‘back to shore’ in victory speech

Published March 3, 2024
PM-elect Shehbaz Sharif hugs his elder brother and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in the National Assembly on March 3, 2024. — DawnNewsTv
PM-elect Shehbaz Sharif hugs his elder brother and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in the National Assembly on March 3, 2024. — DawnNewsTv

After being elected as the 24th premier of Pakistan on Sunday, PM-elect Shehbaz Sharif vowed to steer the country “back to shore” with the help of allied parties in his second tenure in the top office.

Shehbaz won the prime minister’s election today after clinching 201 votes against his PTI-backed opponent from the Sunni Ittehdad Council (SIC) Omar Ayub Khan, who managed to secure 92 votes.

Following the announcement by National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Shehbaz hugged his elder brother and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, who was widely expected to become the prime minister following the Feb 8 elections but stepped aside for reasons unknown in favour of his sibling.

In his first speech on the floor of the newly elected house as the PM-elect, Shehbaz said that big challenges lay ahead in Pakistan’s path but they could be overcome “if we come together and decide to change the country’s fate” by taking it to its rightful position.

As he thanked his brother and allied parties for posing their trust in him by electing him as the leader of the house again, PTI-backed lawmakers from the SIC chanted slogans from the opposition benches, calling the siblings “thieves” — possibly a reference to their claim that the PML-N stole the mandate given to them by the public.

“There are talented people sitting in this Parliament who can steer Pakistan’s ship to the shore […] including journalists, intellectuals, politicians, religious leaders,” Shehbaz added.

He asserted that PML-N and coalition parties would play their role as “Pakistanis, Muslims, and human beings” to steer the country out of the crisis it currently faces even though the “job is difficult but not impossible”.

“When my leader (Nawaz) was elected the prime minister thrice, the development that ensued in the country is an example of its own. And it is not wrong to say that Nawaz Sharif is the one who built Pakistan,” Shehbaz said.

The PM-elect also paid tribute to close ally PPP’s founding leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was hanged to death in the past, saying the nation would always “remember his sacrifices”.

‘PML-N never harmed country unlike opponents’

Shehbaz said his party could never even think of bringing any harm to the country, unlike his opponents.

“They put the entire opposition behind bars, they didn’t care about women or children and used language that cannot be uttered out loud,” he said on the floor of the National Assembly.

“This is the difference between this leadership and that leadership […] the entire assembly is witness to the fact that we never thought of the politics of revenge.

“Neither a pot was broken, nor any building was ever damaged […] but it shameful that the country saw a day when GHQ, corps commander houses, airfields were attacked on May 9,” Shehbaz said, adding that such events were unforgettable.

Alarming debt crisis

The PM-elect lamented the alarming debt crisis faced by the country, saying that even the National Assembly’s expenditures were being paid through borrowed money.

“But if we decide to do a deep surgery and bring changes in the system, basic reform […] I have no doubt that Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, and others will agree that we can either get rid of a ‘life of debt’ or we move forward with heads down in shame.

“No, this will not happen, we will rise and we will make Pakistan self-sufficient,” he asserted.

Promises end to electricity and tax theft

Shehbaz promised to end to electricity and tax theft during his second tenure, saying that he was aware of the burden of inflation being faced by the public, especially the lower class.

“Electricity and tax thefts are a matter of life and death for Pakistan […] and I want to say that God willing we will remove this cancer from its roots and make the country stand on its feet.

“It is difficult […] it is a long and thorny journey full of hurdles, but countries that surmounted these challenges became one of the most [advanced] nations around the world,” Shehbaz said, adding that he would oversee the end of tax theft and bring a technological model which would remove any human error.

“This will decrease inflation, increase employment, and the country will grow,” he said.

‘Will provide specialised training for 500,000 students’

PM-elect Shehbaz said his government will provide specialised training to 500,000 young students.

“These young students will not take jobs, but they will give jobs,” the newly elected prime minister said, elaborating that the training will include the use of technology and artificial intelligence.

Packages, subsidies for farmers

Shehbaz promised that his government would provide subsidies directly to farmers and that a package on solar tube-wells would also be announced soon.

“The seed mafia will be eliminated and we will import seeds from the best countries in the world and provide them to farmers,” he said, adding that the first batch of these seeds would be provided free of cost.

Shehbaz also said that the Centre would work with all four provinces in the sectors of agriculture.

He also promised to bring investment into the country and create an economic environment that would spur growth, and vowed to spread a web of “one window” export zones in all four provinces and work day and night to fulfill all these promises.

‘To widen web of public transport’

Shehbaz said he would spread a vast web of efficient public transport across the country.

Continuing his victory speech in the National Assembly, he promised state-of-the-art hospitals and medical facilities.

“I want to make an announcement here today […] we will provide all the talented students with an opportunity to study abroad so that they can make Pakistan proud across the world,” he said.

Shehbaz also said his government would work on building a system through which swift justice will be provided.

He also announced that women and children behind bars, whose sentences were less than two years, would be freed.

‘No forgiveness for May 9 perpetrators’

However, the PM-elect said the perpetrators of the May 9 riots will not be forgiven, vowing action against all those who were involved in the attack on state installations.

At the same time, he also said that justice would be dispensed to all those who were not involved in the riots.

Shehbaz promised that his government would put an end to terrorism and its roots once and for all. He said his aim was to take the National Action Plan forward.

Lauds female cop for saving woman’s life from mob

The PM-elect also lauded the female Lahore police officer ASP Shehr Bano Naqvi for protecting the life of a woman clad in an Arabic print shirt from a mob attack last week.

Shehbaz said harassment of women anywhere was unacceptable, adding that they would be provided with equal job opportunities and remuneration during his tenure.

Free visas for brotherly nations

Shehbaz announced that citizens of Pakistan’s brotherly countries would be provided visa-free entry into Pakistan, saying that it would increase trade between the countries.

He added that his government would set a goal for Pakistan to become a member of G20 countries by 2030.

Calls out global silence on Gaza

The PM-elect called out the international community for its silence and inaction on the situation in Gaza and held Kashmir.

“Let’s all come together […] and the National Assembly should pass a resolution for the freedom of Kashmiris and Palestinians,” he stressed.

Towards the end of his victory speech, Shehbaz said the nation only awaited the results of “our hard work” and not the election results.

“The country wants justice,” the PM-elect concluded as part of his closing remarks of his maiden speech as prime minister for the second time.

Congratulations pour in for PM to be

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar congratulated Shehbaz on being elected as the 24th prime minister of the country.

“Congratulations to Shehbaz Sharif on being elected as the new prime minister of Pakistan,” Kakar wrote on X.

“May your tenure bring prosperity, progress, and unity to our beloved nation,” he remarked.

According to APP, PML-N leader Azma Bokhari also congratulated PM-elect, saying that the era of progress and prosperity would continue again under his leadership.

“Shehbaz would steer Pakistan out of the economic vortex and vicious circle as his first and foremost priority is to ensure the revival of the national economy and elimination of the price hike,” she said.

“Those who are destined to wail will continue to do so for the next five years. The PML-N government under the dynamic leadership of Nawaz Sharif will work with the same spirit of rendering public service in the federation and Punjab as well.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping also congratulated Shehbaz on his election as premier.

Xi noted that he believes that under the leadership of Sharif and the new Pakistani government, and with the united efforts of all walks of life in Pakistan, the country will achieve new and greater accomplishments in the cause of national development and progress.

On the same day, Chinese Premier Li Qiang also sent a congratulatory message to Sharif.

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