Pakistan Political Shift-Shehbaz Sharif as Prime Minister Asif Zardari Set for Presidency

mage of attendees at the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan amidst the backdrop of Shehbaz Sharif's assumption as Prime Minister and Asif Zardari's impending presidency
Pakistan Political Shift-Shehbaz Sharif as Prime Minister Asif Zardari Set for Presidency

Amidst a dramatic no-confidence motion, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif is poised to ascend to the role of Prime Minister of Pakistan, following a decisive vote against former premier Imran Khan by 176 out of 342 lawmakers in the National Assembly.

Simultaneously, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Zardari, aged 68, is on track to reclaim the country’s Presidency. Shehbaz Sharif previously held the prime ministerial office from 2022 to 2023, while Asif Zardari served as President from 2008 to 2013.

The recent political upheaval unfolded amidst intense intrigue, with Khan attempting unsuccessfully to circumvent the no-confidence vote by advocating for the immediate dissolution of assemblies and advocating for fresh elections. However, the Pakistan Supreme Court overturned his maneuver, reinstating the no-confidence process meticulously orchestrated by a united opposition, which had mounted a formidable challenge to Khan's autocratic governing style.

Assuming power, Shehbaz Sharif faces the daunting task of managing a fragile coalition comprised of longstanding political adversaries, including the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party, alongside dissident factions from Khan’s Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaaf party and smaller groups. The immediate challenge lies in maintaining harmony within this coalition.

The new government must urgently address pressing economic challenges, including soaring inflation, currently at 13%, dwindling foreign exchange reserves sufficient for only two months of imports, and mounting sovereign debts. Proposed measures include the removal of subsidies on petroleum, gas, and electricity, as well as stringent expenditure cuts, with the aim of securing an IMF bailout package.

On the diplomatic front, repairing strained relations with the United States takes precedence, given the previous administration's pivot towards China and Russia, coupled with contentious stances on Afghanistan. Early dissolution of the legislative body and subsequent elections by the end of 2024 loom as a distinct possibility, amidst allegations of foreign interference and democracy norms violations.

This transition marks a pivotal moment in Pakistan's political landscape, with Shehbaz Sharif and Asif Zardari poised to navigate the country through a period of significant challenges and opportunities.

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