Shebaz Sharif: Who is the new Prime Minister of Pakistan?

Sharif, a 70-year-old former opposition leader, will serve as prime minister until the next general election in 2023.

Former cricket star Khan was elected by the Pakistani parliament after being ousted as prime minister in a no-confidence vote, which was a threat to the constitutional crisis. For weeks, the sheriff has been leading a campaign to oust Khan over allegations of mismanagement and economic misconduct.

Critics say the sheriff’s uprising is embroiled in political conflict, and in the face of widespread opposition to Khan, he now faces the difficult task of reviving a declining economy and maintaining important relations with key countries.

“This is a historic (few weeks), our young and weakest democracy being tested within its limits,” said Hassan Kamal Watu, a lawyer and columnist based in the capital Islamabad. “What we can only hope for at the end of this constitutional crisis is that our democracy is shaken but endured.”

Who is Shebaz Sheriff?

The heir to the Steel dynasty, Shebaz Sharif is the younger brother of three-time former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The family’s fortunes were largely derived from the Ittefaq Group steelmaker, which they co – founded with their businessman father, Mohammad Sharif.

Shebaz Sharif became the Chief Minister of Punjab, Pakistan’s politically important and most populous province in 1997, and was lauded by many in the province for his good governance.

But his tenure was unexpectedly shortened in 1999 When former General Pervez Musharraf led a military coup against his older brother, the relationship between the government and the powerful military was part of a breakdown. Shebaz Sharif was imprisoned in Pakistan for a while before being deported to Saudi Arabia with his family.

He returned to Pakistan in 2007 and was re-elected Chief Minister of Punjab the following year. His tenure was famous in Punjab for its ambitious infrastructure projects and advances in education and industry.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif introduced the second-right and third-right Shebaz Sharif to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on July 5, 2013 in Beijing.

But in 2018 the sheriff’s family became embroiled in corruption, with his older brother sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $ 10.5 million for corruption.

Nawaz Sharif has denied the allegations, but the Supreme Court of Pakistan has barred him from holding political office. Shebaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PMLN) party, has taken charge from his elder brother, but he faces unsolved corruption allegations, which he denies.

Opposition leader Shebaz Sharif has been elected Prime Minister of Pakistan

For most of Khan’s time, the sheriff spearheaded a campaign to oust him as prime minister. In recent months, Sharif and the opposition have blamed Khan for the economic mismanagement and demanded his resignation.

In a dramatic turn of events, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament blocked a no-confidence vote against Khan, after which he dissolved Parliament and called for early elections. Opposition parties have stated they will not run in the by-elections in Pakistan.

The court ruled last week that blocking a no-confidence vote against Khan was unconstitutional, paving the way for a referendum and the sheriff becoming prime minister.

Repairing a damaged economy

With inflation in double digits, the sheriff now has a weakened economy. The prices of basic necessities such as food and fuel have skyrocketed and the government’s foreign exchange reserves have been declining rapidly.

In a poll released by Gallup Pakistan in January, 64% of respondents identified inflation as the country’s biggest problem.

Meliha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Britain and the United Nations, said the recovery of the economy would be the sheriff’s “biggest challenge and top priority”.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has been ousted following a no - confidence vote

“There is pressure on the rupee, which is depreciating sharply against the dollar, and business confidence is declining,” he said.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to provide $ 6 billion in bailouts to Pakistan in 2019, but the plan has since stalled.

Lodhi said the resumption of the IMF program was the sheriff’s “main focus”.

“Pakistan urgently needs funding,” he said.

Shortly after taking office, the sheriff vowed to fix the economy.

“The economic challenges are huge and we need to find a way out of these problems. We need to shed sweat and blood to revive the economy,” he said.

How will Sharif’s tenure affect Pakistan’s foreign policy?

Khan ushered in a new era of foreign policy in which Pakistan distanced itself from the United States and moved closer to China and Russia.

Khan blamed the United States for the situation in neighboring Afghanistan and his unique Islamic populism and anti-American rhetoric polarized the nation by accusing Washington of plotting with Pakistani opposition to oust him from power.

Analysts say the sheriff now faces the daunting task of reforming relations with the United States without playing into Khan’s story – which was echoed by many of the former prime minister’s voters.

“Pakistan needs to work very closely with the Americans and there is no question about that. However, domestically, they need to manage optics,” said Happyman Jacob, founder of the India-based Strategic Defense Research Council. “For the simple reason that Afghanistan needs to be stabilized, Pakistan has no choice but to work very closely with the Americans.”

Unlike Khan, Jacob said the sheriff had not severed ties with Washington, adding that Pakistan was “likely to see improvement in relations” with the United States.

India claims to have mistakenly fired missiles at Pakistan

Sharif is expected to maintain cordial relations with India, Pakistan’s largest South Asian neighbor, as his elder brother did.

In a speech to parliament on Monday, Sharif stressed the need to “resolve the crisis” in the disputed region of Kashmir, which has pushed the two nuclear-armed states into war three times.

According to Jacob, his visit was “good for India-Pakistan relations.”

“He has a close relationship with the leadership in India … and is in favor of peace with India,” he said, adding that unlike Khan, Sharif has maintained relations with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and has paved the way for “peace”. “Year.

Sharif is expected to maintain another important relationship with China.

As the Chief Minister of Punjab, he was instrumental in running the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as part of China’s belt and road infrastructure project, and maintains a positive relationship with Beijing.

“Pakistan’s relationship with China is very important from an economic point of view,” Jacob said. “The new government is not going to slow down that engagement, it will increase over time.”

How will the sheriff bang against Khan?

Sharif faces a tough challenge in quelling animosity between his coalition government and Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

In the run-up to the PM’s vote on Monday, all PTI lawmakers resigned en masse.

“For better or worse, Khan will be a thorn in the side of the government,” said lawyer Wato.

On April 10, 2022, supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party waved flags in support of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Lahore, Pakistan.

Khan is expected to challenge the sheriff in next year’s general election, and his allegations of “foreign conspiracy” against him are likely to escalate further.

Since Khan’s ouster, tens of thousands of his supporters have taken to the streets in major cities across Pakistan, chanting slogans against the US and Pakistani military. Khan’s supporters have accused the military of withdrawing support for him in recent months.

Unlike Khan, the sheriff maintains a cordial relationship with the generals – one thing analysts say is good for him.

However, according to Wato, the sheriff will face a tough path.

“It will be difficult to shake the (conspiracy) seal (Sharif),” Wato said. “Corruption allegations (against Sharif) will continue and it is inevitable that regular Pakistanis will get tired as the Prime Minister’s Office is seen as the family heir among brothers.”

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