Sunday, March 3, 2024

Pakistan deadlock: Nawaz Sharif a step closer to PM post as Bilawal Bhutto drops out of race

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Pakistan is a step closer to getting a new government after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday pledged support for rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday dropped out of the race for prime minister and said his party would support any candidate proposed by the Nawaz Sharif-led PML-N.

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (C) and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) party, along with his younger brother and former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif (R) and his daughter Maryam Nawaz (L).(AFP)

Bhutto also said that his party would not join the cabinet.

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“If this house fails to elect a prime minister and it fails to form a government, then we will have to go back for re-elections and this will lead to another perpetuation of this political crisis,” Bilawal Bhutto said in a briefing Tuesday. “Pakistan Peoples Party will not accept ministries in the government and will support the government on an issue-to-issue basis.”

Replying to a question, Bilawal said that his father and former president Asif Ali Zardari would be the candidate to become president as he was capable of getting the country out of the current problems.

Meanwhile, former Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif reaffirmed that his elder brother, Nawaz Sharif, would become the country’s prime minister.

“I had said that Nawaz Sharif would become prime minister for the fourth time. And I maintain today that he is going to be the PM for the fourth time,” Shehbaz said at a press conference.

Bhutto’s announcement and Shehbaz Sharif’s reaffirmation have paved the way for Nawaz Sharif to become the prime minister for a record fourth time.

Nawaz Sharif’s potential comeback to power comes after a tumultuous period marked by legal battles, exile, and political manoeuvring.

The older Sharif has been involved in politics for nearly five decades and has a history of disagreements with the generals. He was ousted three times as prime minister. In 2017, he was disqualified from office by the Supreme Court of Pakistan over corruption charges stemming from the Panama Papers scandal. Subsequently, he was also convicted and sentenced to prison in separate corruption cases. Following his ouster from power and subsequent legal troubles, Nawaz Sharif went into exile in London for medical treatment.

Pakistani voters gave a fractured mandate in the results of the February 8 polls.

Independent candidates, mostly backed by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s PTI party, won 101 seats in the 266-member National Assembly, followed by former three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) with 75 seats, and former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with 54 seats.

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