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Pakistan: Shehbaz Sharif confirmed as new prime minister

March 3, 2024

Lawmakers in Pakistan have voted Shehbaz Sharif in as the country's new premier. Sharif will govern in a coalition, with the most powerful opposition force the independents loyal to jailed former PM Imran Khan.

Shebaz Sharif, who is set to become prime minister for a second time
Shebaz Sharif, the main political rival of ex-Pakistani premier Imran Khan, will need 169 votes from the 336-member lower house to be elected as prime ministerImage: K.M. Chaudary/AP/picture alliance

Pakistan's newly formed government on Sunday elected its new prime minister following general elections on February 8.

Shehbaz Sharif, head of Pakistan's Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and younger brother of former premier Nawaz Sharif, was voted in for a second time.

Pakistan lawmakers elect Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister

"Shehbaz Sharif is declared prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan," National Assembly Speaker, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said in the chamber after the vote.

Sharif secured 201 votes in the 336-member National Assembly and returns to the position he held up until August, when parliament was dissolved and a caretaker government was put in place ahead of the elections.

Those figures would roughly equate to support from parties in his coalition plus some of the parliament's unelected permanent members or potentially some political opponents.

The session took place amid protests by supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose PTI party was not allowed to run in the elections, but whose members secured 93 seats while running as independents.

Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan protest in Karachi. March 2, 2024.
Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan called for nationwide protests over the weekend, with this image hailing from KarachiImage: Fareed Khan/AP/picture alliance

Pakistan's coalition government

Sharif's PML-N managed to form a coalition with the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and a group of smaller parties, which together gave them enough seats to govern in a parliament with 266 elected members. 

The PML-N won 75 seats and the PPP claimed 54. 

Sharif is the PML-N's preferred candidate for prime minister, while the PPP will get its preferred choice as president under the coalition accord — Asif Ali Zardari Bhutto.

Independent candidates backed by jailed leader Imran Khan won the most seats of any party grouping with 93 of 266 contestable seats, but had to run as independents with the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party excluded from the vote. 

However, no party in Pakistan came close to the 134 seats required to set about forming a government by themselves.

Supporters of Khan have held protests in major cities across the country and have made allegations of vote rigging in the February elections.

They're also calling for Khan's release, who is in jail over corruption and criminal charges.

Pakistan parliament elects Shehbaz Sharif amid protests

kb/msh (dpa, Reuters)