Sharif in talks to form Pakistan government
May 13 2013 01:11 AM
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 Former Pakistani prime minister and head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N Nawaz Sharif meets party s
Former Pakistani prime minister and head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N Nawaz Sharif meets party supporters at his residence in Lahore yesterday.

 

Pakistani election winner Nawaz Sharif was in talks yesterday to form a new government, as US President Barack Obama said Washington was ready to work with Islamabad “as equal partners”.

Obama welcomed the “historic, peaceful and transparent transfer of civilian power” in Pakistan, where Sharif’s two biggest challenges are likely to be fixing the shattered economy and tackling Islamist militancy.

“My administration looks forward to continuing our co-operation with the Pakistani government that emerges from this election as equal partners in supporting a more stable, secure, and prosperous future for the people of Pakistan,” Obama said in a statement.

Partial, unofficial results from Saturday’s election represented a stunning comeback for the wealthy 63-year-old tycoon who was deposed as prime minister in a 1999 military coup and spent years in jail and exile.

Sharif appears to have done well enough to rule out the prospect of a weak coalition, as the party of former cricket star Imran Khan achieved its own breakthrough on an anti-corruption platform that resonated with younger voters.

Khan’s party also looked set to take over the provincial government in the restive northwest, where he has vowed to end US drone strikes.

Taliban violence marred the election campaign with attacks killing more than 150 people, including 24 on polling day.

While Sharif has voiced support for peace talks with the Taliban, he has been less vocal against US drone strikes than Khan, and is considered a pragmatist with whom Washington can work.

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote on his official Twitter page that he hoped to chart “a new course for the relationship” between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

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