Meet Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan's ‘accidental’ prime minister | World News - Hindustan Times
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Meet Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan's ‘accidental’ prime minister and Nawaz Sharif's brother

Mar 03, 2024 06:29 PM IST

Shehbaz Sharif, backed by PML-N and PPP, becomes Pakistan Prime Minister after securing 201 votes. He faces challenges of inflation and security threats.

The Pakistan National Assembly elected 72-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shehbaz Sharif as the 24th prime minister.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party leader Shehbaz Sharif was elected as prime minister of Pakistan.(AFP)
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party leader Shehbaz Sharif was elected as prime minister of Pakistan.(AFP)

Chosen as the consensus candidate of PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Shehbaz secured 201 votes, surpassing the 169 needed in the 336-member Parliament. Imran Khan-backed candidate Omar Ayub Khan received 92 votes.

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Earlier, the house elected Ayaz Sadiq, Sharif's nominee, as speaker on Friday.

Shehbaz will be administered the oath of office on Monday at the Presidential mansion, Aiwan-e-Sadr.

Who is Shehbaz Sharif?

Shehbaz Sharif, born on September 23, 1951, in Lahore, Punjab, comes from the influential Sharif family, a dominant force in Pakistani politics.

• He studied at Government College, Lahore, and later pursued a law degree from the University of Punjab.

• Shehbaz entered politics in the 1980s, rising swiftly through the ranks of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), founded by his brother Nawaz Sharif and their father.

• Serving multiple terms as the chief minister of Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province, he built a reputation as a competent administrator.

• He played a crucial role in maintaining a coalition of disparate parties for 16 months after Imran Khan was voted out of office in 2022.

• Sharif first served as prime minister in 2022, in the absence of his elder brother and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, in a similar alliance that ousted ex-cricket star Imran Khan. He remained PM for 16 months before being replaced by the caretaker government for general elections.

• Leading efforts to prevent Pakistan from defaulting, Shehbaz secured a $3 billion loan programme in his 16-month stint as PM, before being replaced by caretaker government for general elections. He implemented tough measures like removing subsidies and raising energy prices.

• His nomination for the prime ministerial role was unexpected, especially after Nawaz Sharif's return from exile to contest the election.

• Shehbaz is widely perceived to maintain favourable relations with the military, suggesting a potential influence on key decisions behind the scenes.

ALSO READ- Pak Polls: Imran Khan’s party moves to Supreme Court against alleged results rigging

Shehbaz to lead a shaky alliance

Nawaz Sharif gave the first vote for Shehbaz in the prime ministerial election. PTI criticised Nawaz Sharif, saying he should have gracefully accepted defeat.

Shehbaz received support from PPP, MQM-P, PML (Q), Balochistan Awami Party, PML (Z), Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party, and the National Party, even as PTI-backed lawmakers alleged vote rigging.

Tough job for Sharif

Sharif is set to confront a trio of intertwined crises in the nation of over 24 crore people.

During his first term, Pakistan teetered on the brink of economic default, narrowly averted thanks to a last-minute deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

ALSO READ- Imran Khan asks IMF not to extend loan to Pakistan before election audit

Pakistan is grappling with persistently high inflation, and Sharif is expected to lead the implementation of unpopular measures, likely mandated by the IMF.

Additionally, security conditions have worsened, with Islamabad attributing a surge in attacks to the Taliban's resurgence in neighbouring Afghanistan in 2021.

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