Pakistan’s Shehbaz Sharif Sworn in as Prime Minister Amid Coalition Formation Delay

Featured & Cover Pakistan's Shehbaz Sharif Sworn in as Prime Minister Amid Coalition Formation Delay

Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan was sworn in for his second term as prime minister on Monday, following a nearly four-week delay in the formation of a coalition government after a contentious national election. The 72-year-old Sharif assumed office during a ceremony held at the presidential office in Islamabad, the nation’s capital, amid the presence of various dignitaries from civil, military, and bureaucratic spheres. Clad in a traditional black sherwani, Sharif’s inauguration was broadcast live on state television.

The election, which took place on February 8, was marred by allegations of irregularities including a mobile internet shutdown, arrests, and pre-election violence. The delayed results led to accusations of rigging. Despite protests from lawmakers aligned with the imprisoned former premier Imran Khan, parliament elected Sharif as prime minister. Khan’s party had secured the most seats in the election, but the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) joined forces to form a coalition government. Notably, Shehbaz Sharif’s elder brother, Nawaz Sharif, a three-time premier and the leader of PML-N, opted out of the prime ministerial position.

This marks Shehbaz Sharif’s return to the role he previously held until August when parliament was dissolved ahead of the election. With his appointment, attention now turns to the composition of his cabinet, particularly the crucial finance portfolio. Economists, investors, and foreign stakeholders await Sharif’s announcement regarding his cabinet, given the urgency of addressing the looming expiration of Pakistan’s multi-billion dollar funding agreement with the International Monetary Fund in April.

Speculation surrounds the potential appointment of Ishaq Dar, a former four-time finance minister and a top contender for the position, according to sources within PML-N. However, other candidates are also under serious consideration for this pivotal role.

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