Shehbaz Sharif elected as Pakistan’s new PM

Shehbaz Sharif has been appointed as the Prime Minister of Pakistan after a contentious vote marked by allegations of rigging and irregularities. Shehbaz Sharif, representing the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) party, emerged as the victor against Omer Ayub, the candidate from Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. The election took place on February 8, and with no single party securing an outright majority, a new eight-party coalition was formed, leading to Sharif’s nomination as prime minister.

Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had previously served as prime minister from April 2022 to August 2023, taking over after Imran Khan’s removal from power. In his victory speech, Shehbaz Sharif expressed gratitude to his older brother Nawaz, attributing the development of Pakistan to him.

The election aftermath involved weeks of negotiations and political maneuvering to form a coalition government. PML-N, backed by the military, engaged in talks with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and smaller parties to secure a majority government and sideline the PTI. The agreement resulted in Shehbaz Sharif becoming prime minister, while PPP’s Asif Ali Zardari is set to assume the role of president.

Imran Khan and PTI have consistently alleged widespread rigging in the election, claiming that seats won by the party were stolen and awarded to PML-N and others. Despite the challenges and protests, the coalition government was formed, signaling the continued dominance of political dynasties in Pakistan, namely the Sharifs and the Bhuttos.

The coalition government, led by Shehbaz Sharif, faces substantial challenges ahead, including addressing the economic crisis, reducing inflation, and managing the discontent among PTI supporters. There are concerns about the coalition’s stability given ideological differences between PML-N and PPP, potentially leading to political turmoil in the country.

In a separate development, Imran Khan, currently serving a jail sentence, has requested an audit of the election by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a condition for further financial assistance to Pakistan under the new government.

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