Critics stay cautious as congratulations pour in for PM-elect Shehbaz

Published March 4, 2024
ISLAMABAD: PML-N supporters distribute sweets as they celebrate the election of Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister, outside the Parliament House on Sunday.
—Mohammad Asim/White Star
ISLAMABAD: PML-N supporters distribute sweets as they celebrate the election of Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister, outside the Parliament House on Sunday. —Mohammad Asim/White Star

LAHORE: Felicitations and good wishes for Prime Minister-elect Shehbaz Sharif came in from all sides on Sunday, but some of his opponents were also critical of his path to the premiership, warning that it may not be smooth sailing for ‘Shehbaz Speed’ during his second term.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang congratulated Mr Sharif, with the former noting that under the new PM, the country would definitely achieve greater accomplishments in the cause of national development and progress.

Xi stressed that China and Pakistan should continue their traditional friendship, strengthen exchanges and cooperation in all fields, jointly build an upgraded version of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, continue to deepen the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, and build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era, so as to bring more benefits for the people of the two countries.

In his congratulatory statement, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi expressed the confidence that both countries would work harder to strengthen and expand their cooperation. “Iran is fully prepared to strengthen and deepen all aspects of bilateral relations,” he said.

Xi, Raisi felicitate new PM; JI chief calls on parties to boycott assembly

Tehran’s Ambassador Dr Reza Amiri Moghadam also extended his warmest congratulations to the new PM, saying that Iran was ready to expand all-out mutual relations, ties and cooperation with neighboring Pakistan.

Outgoing Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar also congratulated PM-elect Shehbaz on his election, wishing him all the best as he embarked on the important journey of leadership.

“May your tenure bring prosperity, progress, and unity to our beloved nation,” he remarked in a post on X.

Tehrik-i-Istaqlal Presi­dent Rehmat Khan Wardag said that with two major political players, PML-N and PPP, joining hands, the country was at last moving towards political stability.

Recalling former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s offer for reconciliation to the PTI back in 2013, Mr Wardag says now Shehbaz Sharif has also offered an olive branch to the same opposition party and Imran Khan should have a heart and accept the offer for the sake of national political and economic stability.

He said the PTI should take recourse to the legal forums for resolution of their grievances instead of creating a chaos in the country otherwise, he cautions, it will meet the same fate as was encountered by nationalists.


But Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq wondered how the new premier expected other parties to agree to a charter of economy or a reconciliation pact after their mandate was “stolen” in the Feb 8 polls.

He also expressed surprise at PM-elect Shehbaz’s expectation that those whose mandate was stolen should remain silent, instead of seeking justice.

Mr Haq called on all members of parliament who thought that the Feb 8 election was rigged to resign from the assembly and become a part of a movement against election rigging.

Haqooq-i-Khalq Party General Secretary Farooq Tariq said that with the election of Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister, he expected another period of austerity, price-hike, privatisation, full implementation of anti-people conditions of donors, and the continuation of the indirect rule of establishment.

Business community

Agriculture Republic, a think-tank in the farming sector, commended PM-elect Sh­e­hbaz’s commitment to addressing the country’s most pressing challenges, including the economy, climate change, and food security.

Aamer Bhandara, who served as a member of various important committees during Mr Sharif’s previous tenure, emphasised the importance of agricultural reforms that would benefit not only corporate farms, but also focus on small-scale farmers.

He stresses the need for clear supervision and policies, especially in the agriculture sector, to safeguard food security in these vulnerable regions.

The Pakistan Business Forum (PBF) also congratulated PM-elect Shehbaz, expressing the hope that the business world would now witness a new era of ‘Pakistan Speed’.

In a statement, the PBF called for framing a 20-year economic vision for the country, including the signing of a ‘charter of the economy’ by all political parties and a roadmap for economic development, APP reported.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2024



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