Nawaz for friendly ties with India, invites Manmohan to Pakistan

Islamabad: Nawaz Sharif, who is set to be Pakistan’s prime minister for a third time, Monday said his government would have friendly relations with India and said he would invite Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his oath-taking ceremony here.

Terming economy and energy as top priorities, he said his party will try to form a strong government to overcome problems facing the country.

An upbeat Sharif – whose victory in the elections saw the Karachi Stock Exchange-100 index zoom and breach a record – told foreign correspondents in his palatial residence in Raiwind, outside Lahore, that his government would establish friendly ties with India. He said all outstanding issues between the two should be resolved through dialogue.

Riding on hopes of peace and stability, the KSE based in Pakistan’s commercial hub Karachi gained some 300 points, breaking the KSE-100 index record of 20,000 points, as investors hailed the outcome of the May 11 polls, reported Geo News.

Manmohan Singh had Sunday expressed New Delhi’s desire to work with the new government. He also invited Sharif to visit India after the PML-N’s win in the historic election, which saw the transition from one civilian government to another for the first time in 65 years.

Unofficial results show that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has emerged the single largest party in the National Assembly with cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) standing second and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) relegated to the third spot.

The PPP announced that it accepts the results despite “serious reservations”.

“Although the party has serious reservations about the fairness of the polls, it has accepted the results in the larger interest of political stability, democracy and the welfare of the people of Pakistan,” said party president Makhdoom Amin Faheem in a statement, reported Xinhua.

Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari felicitated the nation on the holding of elections to mark the first democratic transition in the country, the presidential spokesman said Monday.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the president said that the holding of elections in accordance with the Constitutional provisions was triumph of the people, of democracy and of the system put in place for democratic transition.

Meanwhile, Sharif told the reporters said a national strategy will also be devised to tackle the issue of terrorism. He said his government will convince the US to stop drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Beginning measures to form the government, Sharif later chaired a meeting of party leaders in Lahore where it was decided to set up committees to contact different political parties.

He acknowledged PTI has won with a majority in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and should form the provincial government there.

The province was governed by the Awami National Party, currently led by Asfandyar Wali Khan, the grandson of “Frontier Gandhi”, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

His mother, Begum Naseem Khan, blamed her son for the shocking defeat of the party, which could only retain one seat. She said he did not know the “ABC of Politics,” adding that they should have boycotted the elections due to terrorism, reported Geo News.

Amid the victory scenes, there were some complaints of rigging with protests at various places by activists of different parties in protest.

The Election Commission of Pakistan summoned a meeting to review the complaints.

The day also saw Punjab Governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood announcing his resignation from the post following the PML-N’s clean sweep in the province, while former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani resigned as PPP’s senior vice chairman, accepting unsatisfactory performance of the party.

Shahbaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif’s brother, is again expected to become chief minister of Punjab. He had become the chief minister of Punjab for the first time in 1997 and again in 2008.

The vanquished PPP now only hopes to form its government in the Sindh province. Dawn cited unofficial results which showed the party has got 70 of the 130 general provincial seats.

The leadership of the Sindh PPP is likely to meet in Karachi Tuesday for consultations on probable candidates for the posts of the leader of the house, the speaker and the deputy speaker.

Millions of Pakistanis had braved Taliban threat and bombings to vote Saturday. The National Assembly has a total of 342 seats, and the four provincial assemblies together have 728 seats. Elections were held to 268 of the National Assembly seats. Of the others, 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 for non-Muslims.

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