Shehbaz Sharif set to become Pakistan’s new PM after controversial election | Politics News

Sharif is likely to return to the role he held until August when parliament was dissolved ahead of the vote.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistani legislators are set to elect Shehbaz Sharif as the country’s prime minister following a controversial election last month.

The South Asian country voted on February 8 in an election marred by allegations of large-scale rigging and delayed results. On Sunday, the National Assembly, as the lower house of parliament is called, is meeting to elect the premier.

Sharif, 72, served as prime minister until August last year when the National Assembly was dissolved to make way for a caretaker government, tasked with holding the national elections. He is the younger brother of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who founded the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) party, which is in alliance with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to form the government.

Shehbaz is expected to prevail over rival Omar Ayub Khan, backed by the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), the political group legislators belonging to former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party joined after the PTI was barred from contesting for allegedly violating election laws.

Shehbaz, currently the PMLN president, has the backing of nearly 200 legislators in the 336-member house. The winner needs 169 votes.

The newly-elected National Assembly members took oath on Thursday, three weeks after the vote.

The PTI, which was forced to field its candidates as independents after losing its election symbol, emerged as the largest group with 93 seats.

The party alleges its mandate was “stolen” and has kicked off street protests against the alleged rigging.

PTI leader Khan, who was removed through a parliamentary vote of no confidence in 2022, has been in jail since August last year following multiple convictions, including for revealing state secrets, corruption, and an “unlawful” wedding.

Pakistan, a country of 241 million people, is faced with political instability as it battles a declining economy and a rapidly deteriorating security situation.

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