Three-time former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif takes oath as ordinary lawmaker

Sharif is back in Parliament after seven long years when he had to step down as the premier following his disqualification in 2017.

Islamabad: Three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday took oath as an ordinary lawmaker in the 16th session of Pakistan’s National Assembly, days after giving up his bid to lead the country for a record fourth time.

A quirk of fate following the poor show in the electoral battle led Nawaz, 74, the supremo of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party to abandon his claim to the prime minister’s position to his younger brother Shehbaz, 72.

Sharif is back in Parliament after seven long years when he had to step down as the premier following his disqualification in 2017.

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His terms as the prime minister include the first from 1990-1993, then 1997-1999, and the last from 2013-2017, none of them for a complete five years. He returned from London to Pakistan in October last year, ending his self-imposed exile to lead his party in the February 8 elections.

However, he could not achieve his ambition to become Pakistan’s prime minister for a record fourth time since his PML-N failed to garner enough seats in the elections, forcing him to nominate his younger brother to become the premier for a second time.

Shehbaz earlier served as prime minister when the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s government was ousted in April 2022. The PML-N party president served as prime minister for 16 months till August 2023 when fresh elections were announced.

On Thursday, amid protests by Imran Khan’s party members against alleged vote rigging, Nawaz Sharif took oath along with his brother Shehbaz.

“Historic visuals from the 16th National Assembly oath-taking ceremony!” the PML-N X handle posted along with the hashtag #MeraQuaidPhirSeAya and a 1:18 minute video.

The video showed the smiling elder Sharif entering the Parliament, then walking towards the many members of his party and shaking hands, with all the while a party song that said Sher Aaya’ (Lion Nawaz Sharif has come) playing in the background.

According to the Constitution, a party must win 133 out of 265 contested seats in the 266-member National Assembly to form a government.

Independent candidates – a majority backed by 71-year-old jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party – won 93 National Assembly seats. The PML-N won 75 seats while the PPP came third with 54 seats. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) has 17 seats.

That left PML-N and PPP to ally along with four smaller parties to keep Khan’s PTI out of power. As part of the arrangement, instead of Nawaz, it was Shehbaz who was to don the premier’s hat, a deal said to have the backing of the powerful military.

The nomination of Shehbaz Sharif as the next prime minister by Nawaz Sharif, who himself was eyeing the plum post for a record fourth time, had surprised many within and outside the party.

However, the PML-N leaders and Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Mariam Nawaz, have reiterated that Nawaz Sharif is not quitting politics and he would continue to guide the party.

Ironically, a pinned post from the President PMLN’s X handle still reads: “The President of PMLN Shehbaz Sharif, during the news conference, reaffirmed that Quaid PML-N Nawaz Sharif will become the Prime Minister.”

On Wednesday, Nawaz Sharif expressed the hope that Pakistan will come out of difficulties in the next two years by taking difficult decisions as his party is all set to form a coalition government in the Centre.

“I believe the next 1.5 or 2 years will be difficult but we have to stay united [during the difficult times] and face our opponents,” he said while addressing the parliamentary party meeting.

“Pakistan will come out of the difficulties in the next 1.5 to 2 years,” he said. The three-time former premier said Pakistan is “badly injured” and the difficult decisions were the need of the hour to resolve the country’s woes.

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