Pakistan's new parliament has been sworn in, marking the first civilian transition of power in the country's 66 year history. Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League-N is poised to form a new government.
The outgoing speaker of parliament, Fehmida Mirza, administered the oath of office to incoming legislators in Islamabad on Saturday, three weeks after general elections marred by violence from militants against secular parties.
Sharif's center-right Muslim League-N scored a landslide victory in the elections, winning 176 out of 342 seats. The outgoing center-left Pakistan People's Party (PPP) managed to secure just 39 seats in a bruising defeat, while cricket star Imran Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf won 35 seats.
The national assembly secretariat said in a press release that a new speaker and deputy speaker of parliament will be elected on Monday. Sharif (pictured above, center) is expected to be elected prime minister on Wednesday.
"I thank Allah who gave our nation an opportunity to bring a new government through elections," Sharif told reporters at the Islamabad airport, where he arrived on Saturday from his home town in Lahore.
"It is a good development that a peaceful democratic transition is taking place," Sharif said. "There could not be a better way to change a government through ballot. I congratulate the nation over it."
Sharif is set to serve his third term as prime minister, the first politician in Pakistani history to do so. He previously served two terms in the 1990s, but was ousted from power in 1999 by a military coup and forced into exile.
Pakistan's political history has been marked by civilian administrations ousted by coups. The overwhelmingly Muslim South Asian nation has experienced three periods of military rule since it gained independence from Great Britain in 1947.
Although Pakistan has successfully begun a civilian transfer of power, the country still faces daunting challenges. Energy shortages, an ailing economy, and Islamist militant violence threaten to turn the nuclear power into a failed state.
slk/ipj (AP, AFP, dpa)