Shahbaz Sharif, Prime Minister

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Shahbaz Sharif is set to be elected prime minister of Pakistan on Monday, but the country is likely not over in political turmoil as his predecessor Imran Khan plans to make life difficult for the new government in light of upcoming elections.

The leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), Mr. Sharif, 70 and younger brother of Nawaz Sharif, who was prime minister three times, should succeed Mr. Khan at the head of this Islamic republic of 220 million people. nuclear weapons.

sequel after the announcement

Former cricket star elected in 2018, Mr Khan, 69, was ousted on Sunday by a no-confidence vote, a first in the country’s history.

The outcome of the vote in the National Assembly is beyond doubt. The coalition of interests forged around the PML-N has a majority since some of Mr. Khan’s allies decided a few days ago to join him.

Mr. Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Pakistan Justice Movement), will nominate former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi as its candidate.

AKP lawmakers, whose hundreds of thousands of supporters took to the streets of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad on Sunday, could choose to resign en masse and not take part in the vote.

sequel after the announcement

The heterogeneous march led by Shahbaz Sharif in particular includes the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, and the small conservative religious party the Association of Islamic Scholars (JUI-W) by Maulana Fazlur Rahman.

– Corruption cases –

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The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan People’s Party, two parties based on family dynasties, have dominated national political life for decades, sharing power during periods when the country, independent since 1947, was not under military rule.

So it remains to be seen how these two longtime rival formations, united with the sole purpose of bringing down Imran Khan, will be able to rule together.

sequel after the announcement

Shahbaz Sharif is seen as less attractive than his brother Nawaz, but also less hawkish and more likely to make the concessions needed to remain in power.

He was the most acceptable opposition leader in the eyes of the military, which remains the key to political power in this country after spending more than three decades under his command even if he has not intervened publicly in recent days.

Like Nawaz, who was ousted in 2017 on corruption charges and imprisoned, then released two years later on medical grounds and has since lived in exile in the UK, Shahbaz Sharif has been linked to bribery and corruption cases. He was arrested and imprisoned in September 2020, but released on bail approximately six months later. His trial is still pending.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) accuses the military of bringing down the Nawaz government by putting pressure on the judiciary, and accuses Imran Khan, who reportedly came to power in 2018 with the support of the military, of continuing this revenge against Shahbaz.

sequel after the announcement

– electoral strategy –

The future prime minister will not only have to hold his camp together, but he will also have to deal with the difficult economic situation of the country, with high inflation, constantly depreciating rupee, and mounting debt.

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The deterioration of security, with an increase in attacks by the Pakistani Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, will also be one of its main concerns.

He will have to determine the strategy to be adopted in terms of the electoral calendar with a view to the next legislative elections, which should be held by October 2023.

sequel after the announcement

Imran Khan, who did everything to cling to power, even if it meant increasing divisions in Pakistani society, must remain a thorn in the side of the new government.

He has long described himself as a victim of “regime change” orchestrated by the United States due to his criticism of US policy in Iraq or Afghanistan, with the complicity of the opposition. He promised not to accept “this imported government.”

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Analyst Musharraf Zaidi predicts that “political stability in Pakistan looks more difficult now, with Khan who should not recognize the government but muster his power in the streets,” adding that it is not yet clear. Whether its potency to induce has increased or decreased in recent weeks.”

Many Pakistanis, who voted in 2018 for Mr. Khan to denounce elite corruption symbolized by the PML-N and the PPP, remain sensitive to this rhetoric and worry about the return of these two parties to grace. .

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