Nawaz Sharif back as Pakistan PM (Third Lead)

Islamabad, June 5 (IANS) Nawaz Sharif, who was Wednesday sworn in as Pakistan’s prime minister after spending nearly 14 years in political wilderness, vowed to resolve the country’s acute energy crisis and asked the US to stop drone strikes in the northwest tribal region.

The oath of office was administered by President Asif Ali Zardari, making Nawaz Sharif the first third-time prime minister in the history of the country.

In his maiden speech shortly after his election by parliament, 63-year-old Nawaz Sharif said: “We respect the sovereignty of other countries and they should also reciprocate us.”

“We all have to devise a common strategy to overcome this issue also,” he said of the drone attacks that have bugged all Pakistani parties.

The US frequently used pilotless aircraft to launch missile attacks on what it said were the hideouts of militants blamed for cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan insists that the US drone strikes are counter-productive and cause civilian casualties.

Nawaz Sharif won the prime minister’s slot by securing 244 of the total 317 votes cast in Wednesday’s poll, reported Xinhua.

Of Nawaz Sharif’s two rivals, Makhdoom Amin Fahim of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) secured 42 votes and Javed Hashmi, of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party, bagged 31 votes.

Sharif required 172 votes in the 342-member National Assembly. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) won 186 seats in the May 11 general elections and he also received support from other parties and independent members.

“A comprehensive plan has also been finalized to resolve the issue of power load-shedding and other problems of the country,” Nawaz Sharif told the National Assembly.

Pakistan faces power shortage of thousands of megawatts, which has badly affected the country’s economic activities. Analysts say that the outgoing ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) suffered defeat as it could not solve the power problem, reported Xinhua.

Corruption will not be tolerated at any level and those found involved in it will be made accountable, Nawaz Sharif said. He said corrupt elements will have to face harsh accountability.

Sharif becomes Pakistan’s first ever leader to serve as prime minister for the third time following the victory of his Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) in the May 11 general elections.

He has already served as prime minister for two non-consecutive terms — the first from Nov 1, 1990, to July 18, 1993, and the second from Feb 17, 1997, to Oct 12, 1999.

Nawaz Sharif was sent into exile in 2000 by then military ruler Pervez Musharraf following the dismissal of his elected government in October 1999.

One of the main tasks of Sharif’s government will be presentation of the new budget in the coming few days as Pakistan’s new financial year begins from July 1.

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