Pakistan Has New PM Amid 'Vote Thief!' Cries

Shehbaz Sharif is elected over protestations of supporters of jailed Imran Khan
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 3, 2024 7:04 AM CST
Pakistan Has New PM Amid 'Vote Thief!' Cries
Shehbaz Sharif is prime minister of Pakistan for the second time.   (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary, File)

Lawmakers in Pakistan's National Assembly on Sunday elected Shehbaz Sharif as the country's new prime minister for the second time—as allies of imprisoned former premier Imran Khan in parliament shouted in protest and raised claims of vote rigging. Sharif secured 201 votes, well above the 169 needed to get a majority.

  • Khan is currently serving prison terms in multiple cases and has been barred from seeking or holding office. Sharif replaced him as prime minister after his ouster in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April 2022.

  • Following days of negotiations, Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League party formed an alliance after the Feb. 8 election, which was overshadowed by militant violence, a nationwide mobile phone shutdown, Khan's exclusion from the vote, and an unusual delay in announcing the result. Authorities said cutting communications was necessary to avoid attacks on candidates and security forces. However, the delay drew criticism from Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which insists the vote was rigged to stop it from getting a majority.
  • Sharif, in his acceptance speech in parliament Sunday, said, "We were subjected to political victimization in the past but never took any revenge." Without naming Khan, he said the previous ruler jailed many political rivals, including himself. He also accused Khan's supporters of attacking military installations while protesting his ouster in 2022, adding that parliament and the courts would now decide whether they deserved pardons. Holding portraits of Khan, some lawmakers stood in front of Sharif when he began his speech, shouting "vote thief" and "shame."
  • The new premier also spoke of repairing ties with the United States. Relations between the two countries have been strained after Khan accused the US, Sharif, and the Pakistani military of conspiring to keep him out of office, following his ouster.
(More Pakistan stories.)

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