Sharif moves to pick Cabinet colleagues

Sharif moves to pick  Cabinet colleagues

Ishaq Dar to be made finance minister Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif moved confidently to form a new government in Pakistan on Monday,...

Ishaq Dar to be made finance minister Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif moved confidently to form a new government in Pakistan on Monday, announcing the next finance minister even as votes from Saturday's election were still being tallied and protests continued over alleged vote rigging in some cities. Sharif's confidence stemmed from his resounding electoral victory, which confounded analyst's predictions of a stronger showing for his rival, former cricket star Imran Khan. Although the count will not be finalized for several days, projections now give Sharif a near-majority of seats in Parliament. Sharif's spokesman said he would appoint Ishaq Dar, who previously served as finance minister twice in the 1990s, to the finance portfolio � a critical job in a country suffering from sharp economic decline that is likely to necessitate a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. The spokesman, Siddiqul Farooq, told Agence-France Presse that Mr. Dar had "all the facts and figures at his fingertips" and would present a new budget in June. The news triggered a rally on Pakistan's main stock exchange in Karachi that pushed its index to a record high. Imran Khan is concentrating his efforts on forming a government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, in northwestern Pakistan. Javed Hashmi, a senior official with Mr. Khan's party, said it was in negotiations with the religious Jamaat-e-Islami Party to form a coalition administration in the province. Sharif, meanwhile, was meeting his top party leaders in Lahore. Beyond politics, the other question facing him is how he will manage relations with the country's powerful military, with whom he has a complicated history. Sharif's political career was midwifed by a military dictator, Gen. Mohammad Zia-ul Haq, in the mid 1980s. But his relationship with the military soured dramatically in 1999 when Mr. Sharif was ousted by Gen. Pervez Musharraf in a military coup that eventually forced him into exile in Saudi Arabia. Since returning to Pakistan in 2007, Mr. Sharif has had a frosty relationship with the military, sometimes in the face of opposition from his own party members, who are by inclination pro-military. When Gen. Musharraf was placed under house arrest in April, Mr. Sharif relented from his previous calls to have the former army chief tried for treason, saying only that the law should take its course.
PML-N to revisit foreign policy
Islamabad (PTI): The PML-N, which is set to form a government in Pakistan, will revisit the foreign policy � including all covert and overt agreements with the US � while ties with India will be picked up from where they were left off in 1999, according to a media report on Monday. The focus of PML-N's foreign policy will be on safeguarding the 'supreme national interest', an unnamed close aide of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who advises him on foreign policy, was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune. "It may sound cliched but we mean it," the aide said. Referring to relations with India, the aide said two-time former premier Sharif would pick up from where he left off in 1999, when then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited Lahore. Asked if the PML-N would renegotiate current terms of engagement with the US, including a deal to facilitate the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, the aide said, "We will look into all such arrangements to find out whether they conform to the country's national interest." The PML-N would not seek a divorce with the US, he said.
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