Islamabad, May 12 (IANS) Nawaz Sharif was Sunday poised to return to power after a 14-year hiatus and Pakistan was set to make a transition from one democratically elected government to another as results of the National Assembly elections started trickling in.
A beaming Nawaz promised change following a bitterly-fought election that saw the country of 180 million face a string of terror attacks. Unfazed voters defied Taliban diktat and bombings to cast their vote Saturday, recording a 60 percent turnout.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf appeared to become the second largest party, pushing the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party to an inglorious exit from power and the third position.
“I want to…assure you all that I will honour all commitments I and my party leaders had made during the election campaign,” Sharif, 63, told a cheering crowd as unofficial results showed his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party had surged ahead of its rivals.
Nawaz Sharif has served as the country’s prime minister for two non-consecutive terms from November 1990 to July 1993 and from February 1997 to October 1999. However, his both governments were dismissed before completing their constitutional term.
A beaming Nawaz Sharif said every possible effort would be made to steer the country out of the current crisis and make it a peaceful and prosperous country, Online news agency reported.
“It is our desire to get absolute majority in the National Assembly so that we should not have to beg for votes for formation of coalition government as coalition governments could not deliver properly,” Sharif said.
After assuming the office of the prime minister, Sharif promised, he would convene a meeting of all political parties to get solid proposals to resolve the issues of poverty, price hike, load-shedding, unemployment and other problems being faced by the country.
The PML-N chief said his party would work with full zeal and vigour to build a new Pakistan which would be stronger and prosperous.
His younger brother Shahbaz Sharif said plainly: “Nawaz Sharif will be your (the people’s) prime minister and I will be your servant.”
Sharif will be leading Pakistan at a time when the country is facing some serious problems, including the worst energy shortage, extremism, corruption, bad governance and poor economic condition.
When he spoke to his supporters in what was described as “victory speech”, Sharif announced that he has already set an agenda in his mind to “steer Pakistan” out of the current situation.
Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Sunday morning led in the elections by a big margin over other rivals.
Of the 152 seats so far secured by different parties, the PML-N bagged 86 seats, 21 went to the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) or Justice Movement of cricketer-turner-politician Imran Khan, and 15 to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of President Asif Ali Zardari. Among others, 9 went to independent candidates, 8 to MQM, 4 to JuI-F, 2 to Jamat-e-Islami, 2 to Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and 5 to others, reported Xinhua.
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. Sixty seats have been reserved for women and ten for non-Muslims.
Suhail Warriach, a political commentator and columnist, said that the PML-N chief had himself highlighted his economic agenda during the campaign and now he has a golden opportunity to implement it.
It is for first time since independence in 1947 that any civilian government in Pakistan has completed five years in office.
Nawaz Sharif is married to Kulsoom Nawaz and has three children – Maryam, Hassan and Hussain.
Dawn recalled that his second term saw Pakistan conducting nuclear tests in 1998, days after India carried out its own. He found himself in conflict with his then newly-appointed army chief, Pervez Musharraf, on Kargil.
Sharif’s second government was ousted in a military coup Oct 12, 1999. He was subsequently arrested and was sentenced to life imprisonment by an anti-terrorist court in April 2000 on two counts of hijacking and terrorism over the diversion of Musharraf’s plane when he was coming in from Sri Lanka when it was low on fuel.
Sharif returned to Pakistan in November 2007 and six years later is all set to become the prime minister for the third time.