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Shehbaz Sharif sworn in as Pakistan’s PM for second time

March 5, 2024 3:07 am

Shehbaz Sharif sworn in as Pakistan’s PM for second time

In a ceremony marked by political tensions and uncertainties, Shehbaz Sharif was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Pakistan for the second time on Monday. The national election held on February 8 had been marred by allegations of irregularities, leading to a prolonged delay in the formation of a coalition government.

Despite protests from lawmakers aligned with the imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan, Sharif, 72, officially assumed office at the presidential office in Islamabad. The event, broadcast live on state TV, showcased Sharif donned in a traditional black sherwani during the swearing-in ceremony, attended by civil, military, and other dignitaries.

The election aftermath saw candidates backed by Khan securing the most seats, but an unexpected alliance between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) paved the way for Sharif’s return to the premiership. The coalition government’s formation, however, did not escape criticism, with accusations of a rigged vote due to mobile internet shutdowns, arrests, and violence during the election period.

Addressing the nation, Sharif emphasized the government’s commitment to improving the country’s economy, declaring it as the top priority. His first official meeting post-swearing-in was with the finance team, directing them to initiate talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an extended funding facility, as the current agreement expires in April.

Economists, investors, and foreign capitals are now closely watching for Sharif’s announcement regarding the cabinet, particularly the crucial finance portfolio. The upcoming finance minister will play a pivotal role in leading challenging negotiations with the IMF to secure a new multi-billion dollar funding agreement.

As Pakistan enters this new phase under Sharif’s leadership, the nation grapples with both political controversies and pressing economic challenges, setting the stage for a critical period ahead.

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