9-Party Coalition Picks Ex-Punjab Leader to Be Pakistan’s Next Premier

From Reuters

Nawaz Sharif was formally chosen Thursday by his political coalition as Pakistan’s prime minister-designate.

The nine-party Islamic Democratic Alliance and its allies unanimously named Sharif their parliamentary leader, thus ensuring his election to office by the National Assembly next week.

His victory Thursday was a formality after he was picked Wednesday by the Pakistan Muslim League, the largest component of the alliance. An industrialist, he is a former chief minister of Punjab province, the country’s most populous province.

Sharif said later that he would not pursue corruption cases through the courts against the woman he defeated at the polls Oct. 24, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.


“We have no control of those cases that are in the courts but I will not initiate any new cases against Benazir Bhutto,” he told reporters.

Bhutto, 37, who was dismissed by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in August and accused of gross misrule during her 20 months in office, faces seven charges of abusing her position.

If convicted, she could be disqualified from the National Assembly and barred from public office for seven years.

But Nawaz Sharif, 40, appeared ready to offer Bhutto an olive branch.


Bhutto and her Pakistan People’s Party, humiliated in last week’s national and provincial polls, have charged that she was robbed of victory by massive vote-rigging organized by the caretaker government installed after her dismissal.

“We want nothing but justice,” Bhutto said in an interview Thursday. “I am a fighter. I will fight it out.”