Pakistan elects Nawaz Sharif as prime minister | News | DW | 05.06.2013
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Pakistan elects Nawaz Sharif as prime minister

Pakistan's parliament has endorsed Nawaz Sharif as its new prime minister for an unprecedented third term. The new premier has already set the tone for US-Pakistan diplomacy by calling for an end to drone strikes.

The Lower House voted 244 to 98 in favor of Sharif on Wednesday, returning the office of the prime minister to him more than a decade after he was removed from power in a military coup.

Sharif's center-right Muslim League-N (PML-N) ended the five-year rule of the center-left Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in early May with a landslide victory, winning 176 out of 342 seat. The PPP only won 39 seats.

"I will do my best to change the fate of the people and Pakistan," Sharif said after the election.

The newly elected prime minister previously served two terms in the 1990s. After a military coup in 1999, he lived in exile in Saudi Arabia for over a decade.

Despite the significance of Pakistan's historic elections - the government completed a full term for the first time since the country's birth in 1947 - the government must now address serious economic and security issues plaguing its population.

Sharif faces the challenge of curbing chronic power outages, some of which last for 20 hours at a time. He must also address militant attacks, which have occurred on a regular basis in recent months and could become worse when NATO withdraws from neighboring Afghanistan at the end of the year.

Sharif had remained ambivalent about what tone he would set in US-Pakistan diplomacy prior to the parliament vote. He had said he wanted to maintain a good relationship, but had also criticized a US drone strike Taliban leader Waliur Rehman last week.

However, once he received parliament's endorsement, Sharif expressed his position clearly.

"The chapter of these daily drone attacks now must come to an end," Sharif said to loud applause.

"We respect the sovereignty of others and they should also respect our sovereignty and independence. [The US drone] campaign should come to an end," he said.

kms/mz (AP, AFP, dpa)

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