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Pakistan Elects New Prime Minister

Pakistan’s parliament elected Shehbaz Sharif as the country’s new Prime Minister. This came after the removal of Imran Khan as the Prime Minister of Pakistan in a vote of no confidence on Saturday, last week. After the voting, done on Monday, MPs from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party resigned en masse, boycotting the elections concerning Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. In his first address as prime minister in the National Assembly, Sharif announced an increase in salaries, pensions and the minimum wage for labourers. Sharif also discussed the failures of the foreign policy of Khan’s government and said that he will expedite the multibillion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and rebuild ruptured ties with partners and allies.

Tackling the Kashmir issue in a professional way, Sharif said, “We want good relations with India but there cannot be sustainable peace unless the issue of Kashmir is resolved.” Sharif also invited his Indian counterpart to help solve the Kashmir dispute in line with United Nations resolutions.

The Prime Minister also seized the moment to discuss the allegations levelled by Khan against him, that the United States conspired with his opponents to topple his government. He confidently proclaimed, “I will step down and if there is an iota of evidence [against me].” Sharif, then, ordered an in-camera briefing of the parliamentary committee on national security. Senior civil and military officials, including Pakistan’s foreign ambassador in Washington, will also attend the meeting.

Sharif then went onto Twitter and celebrated his triumph in the elections, with a progressive outlook on the state of things in Pakistan, he tweeted:

“Our focus is on providing as much relief as possible to all Pakistanis by tackling high inflation & kick-starting the stagnant economy.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also extended congratulations to his neighbouring counterpart through a tweet, saying,

“Congratulations to H. E. Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on his election as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. India desires peace and stability in a region free of terror, so that we can focus on our development challenges and ensure the well-being and prosperity of our people.” 

To which, Shehbaz Sharif replied:

“Thank you Premier Narendra Modi for felicitations. Pakistan desires peaceful & cooperative ties with India. Peaceful settlement of outstanding disputes including Jammu & Kashmir is indispensable. Pakistan’s sacrifices in fighting terrorism are well-known. Let’s secure peace and focus on socio-economic development of our people.”

As per a recent media report, it is expected that Shehbaz Sharif will travel to Saudi Arabia and China on his first foreign trip after taking office as Pakistan’s new Prime Minister. It has often been noted that a Pakistani Prime Minister’s first foreign visit destination is either Riyadh or Beijing. This is a result of Islamabad’s strategic relationship with both Saudi Arabia and China.