Sharif set for 3rd term as Pak PM

Islamabad, May 12: Nawaz Sharif was poised for a record third term as Pakistan's Prime Minister with his PML-N party on Sunday taking an unassailable lead in parliamentary elections, which was welcomed by India with whom he pledged to restart the peace process.

During the campaign, 63-year-old Sharif had vowed to revive the Indo-Pak peace process which was interrupted in 1999 by the then military ruler Parvez Musharraf who ousted him in a bloodless coup.

Sharif had started the peace process with then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

In Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated Sharif for his "emphatic victory" in the elections.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid welcomed the outcome of elections in Pakistan and hoped India will continue to have good relations under Sharif's leadership.

Counting of votes was progressing at a slow pace with trends indicating that Sharif may marginally fall short of absolute majority but will be able to make it up by getting the support of independent candidates and smaller rightist parties like the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam which was ahead in 11 seats.

Trends from 264 of the 27 parliamentary seats that went to the polls yesterday showed that the PML-N was set to bag in excess of 125 seats.

Sharif needs 137 seats for a majority.

Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, about which there was considerable hype, lagged behind with trends showing it leading in just 34 seats.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which had a tally of 124 in the 2008 elections and ruled the country for five years with the support of the MQM and the Awami National Party, was ahead in only in 32 seats.

Sharif is set to return to power at a time when Pakistan is facing several major challenges, including growing extremism, a strong Taliban presence in the country's northwest, rampant corruption, uneasy relations with the US ahead of the withdrawal of foreign forces from war-torn Afghanistan and an economy that has virtually been in free fall for the past few years.

Sharif served as premier during 1990-1993 and 1997-1999 but was ousted from office before he could complete his term once on corruption charges and later because of the coup led by Musharraf.

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Courtesy:ISTV Imphal


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