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Who Is Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N Leader Elected as Pakistan PM for 2nd Time?

Shehbaz Sharif was voted as the prime minister on Sunday after receiving 201 votes in the 336-member House.

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Shehbaz Sharif was on Sunday, 3 March, voted the Pakistan Prime Minister for the second time after receiving 201 votes in the 336-member National Assembly.

Sharif was named the consensus candidate for the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan People's Party after his brother Nawaz Sharif refused to assume the role following the controversial 8 February general election.

Sharif's opponent Omar Ayub Khan, who had the backing of jailed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief and former PM Imran Khan, received 92 votes in the House.

Sharif served as prime minister of a coalition government from April 2022 to August 2023 following a no-confidence motion that ousted the Imran Khan government from power.

Sharif will be administered the oath of office on Monday, 4 March.

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Exile and Return to Politics

Sharif was elected to the National Assembly in 1990. However, after the military coup of 1999, both Shehbaz and Nawaz had to spend several years in exile in Saudi Arabia. Like his elder brother, Shehbaz Sharif has also been accused of corruption.

He returned to Pakistan in 2007. He was nominated for the post of PML-N president in 2017, when his brother was found guilty on charges of concealing assets related to the Panama Papers, and therefore, disqualified from holding office.

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Man of Action and an "Old Friend" of China

According to a Reuters report, he is known for his “can-do” administrative style and he also enjoys friendly relations with Pakistan's military which has control over the defence and external affairs policies of the country.

During his three terms as the chief minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, he had worked closely with China on Beijing-funded developmental projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative and on certain occasions even drawn praises from Chinese officials for being a man of action.

Outgoing Chinese consul general Long Dingbin was reported to have called Sharif a "an old friend of China" while China Vice-Minister Zheng Xiaosong gave Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif the title of ‘Shehbaz Speed’ for completing projects before schedule.

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Pro-US Stance

In a sharp contrast to Imran Khan's anti-US stance, Sharif, in a recent interview, said that the ties with the US are important for Pakistan for better or for worse.

On being asked why Pakistan must appease the US, he reportedly said, "Beggars can't be choosers, please understand. We have to feed our nation. We have to send our children to school, we can't fight with someone, can't raise slogans against others."

This comment drew him a lot of flak, especially from the embattled PM Imran Khan who called him a "slave of America".

As Sharif takes the reins as the prime minister of Pakistan, his immediate challenge is to tackle the rising inflation in the country and the dip in its foreign exchange reserves.

(With inputs from Reuters.)

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Topics:  Pakistan   Shehbaz Sharif 

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