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Political change in Pakistan as Shehbaz Sharif seeks to become PM



(Last Updated On: April 11, 2022)

Opposition politician Shehbaz Sharif submitted his nomination to be Pakistan’s next prime minister to the legislature on Sunday, his party said, after incumbent Imran Khan lost a no-confidence vote in parliament after nearly four years in power.

The younger brother of three-times prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz, 70, has led a bid by the opposition in parliament to topple former cricket star Khan, and he is widely expected to replace him following a vote on Monday.

But Khan’s party also submitted papers nominating the former foreign minister as a candidate, saying their members of parliament would resign en masse should he lose, potentially creating the need for urgent by-elections for their seats.

Khan, the first Pakistani prime minister to be ousted by a no confidence vote, had clung on for almost a week after a united opposition first tried to remove him.

On Sunday, he repeated allegations that a foreign conspiracy was behind the regime change.

“The freedom struggle begins again today,” he said via his Twitter account, which is followed by more than 15 million and still describes him as Prime Minister of Pakistan in his biography section.

Even before the vote Khan had called for protests, which were expected to take place late on Sunday.

“I tell all of my supporters across Pakistan, on Sunday, after Isha (evening) prayers, you all have to come out of your homes and protest peacefully against this imported government that is trying to come to power,” he said in an address to the nation on Friday.

His government fell in the early hours of Sunday after a 13-hour session that included repeated delays and lengthy speeches by lawmakers from his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

Opposition parties were able to secure 174 votes in the 342-member house for the no-confidence motion, giving them the majority they needed to enable Monday’s vote to elect a new premier.

Khan’s former information minister Fawad Chaudhry told reporters of the plan for resignations if their nominee does not win.

The speaker would be obliged to accept those resignations that would necessitate by-elections in probably more than 100 seats.

That could plunge the country into another crisis as the election commission has previously said it would not be ready to hold elections until October.


Two sources who declined to be identified said the vote that ousted Khan went ahead after the powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, met Khan, as criticism mounted over the delay to the parliamentary process. The Supreme Court has also ordered parliament to convene and hold the vote.

The military has ruled the country of 220 million people for almost half its nearly 75-year history.

It viewed Khan and his conservative agenda favourably when he won election in 2018, but that support waned after a falling-out over the appointment of the influential military intelligence chief and economic troubles that led to the largest interest rate rise in decades this week.

Khan had antagonised the United States throughout his tenure, welcoming the Islamic Emirate (IE) takeover of Afghanistan last year and more recently accusing the United States of being behind the attempt to oust him. Washington dismissed the accusation.

Shehbaz Sharif said Khan’s departure was a chance for a newbeginning.

“A new dawn has started … This alliance will rebuildPakistan,” he told parliament on Sunday.

Sharif was for years chief minister of Punjab province and has a reputation as an effective administrator.

His first tasks would be to repair relations with the powerful military as well as ally the United States, and tend to a stuttering economy.

Some analysts say navigating major political and economic hurdles with a united front would be a challenge for the new coalition, which comprises several diverse political parties.

“There are going to be divisions and divergences within the key coalition partners,” said Mosharraf Zaidi, senior fellow at thinktank Tabadlab, adding the first likely hurdle would be the raising of fuel prices in coming days.

“They are going to face both internal resistance within the coalition and possibly even criticism by coalition members and that will be in the first few days, not even weeks,” he added.

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India says Afghan embassy issue an ‘internal matter’



(Last Updated On: June 4, 2023)

After reports of corruption and the move by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to take control of Afghanistan’s embassy in New Delhi, the Indian government has said the issue is an internal matter which does not involve them.

Representatives of Afghan refugees living in India have accused officials at the Afghanistan embassy in Delhi, including the ambassador, of corruption. The embassy denies the allegations.

Indian media have also reported that the embassy resisted IEA’s move to formally take control of the embassy.

Arindam Bagchi, India’s foreign ministry spokesman, said in a press conference that the issue is an internal matter of the embassy.

“From our perspective, this is an internal matter of the Afghan Embassy, and we hope that they would resolve it internally,” Bagchi said.

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UNSC to hold meeting on Afghanistan’s situation



(Last Updated On: June 4, 2023)

The United Arab Emirates’ Permanent Representative to the UN Lana Nusseibeh said the UN Security Council will hold a meeting on Afghanistan later this month.

Nusseibeh, who is currently President of the Security Council, said: “We will hold a comprehensive meeting on Afghanistan’s situation on June 21.

“Our focus will be concentrated on Afghanistan’s situation, women’s rights in particular, over which all the members of the Security Council have agreed,” she added.

On Thursday, Nusseibeh told media in New York that the UN Security Council will continue working on the issues of Afghanistan, especially on women’s rights.

According to the UAE ambassador, Fraidoon Oglu, the UN Special Coordinator for Afghanistan Affairs will provide a comprehensive report about the situation in the country to the Security Council in November.

This comes after Fox News reported on Friday that several US Senators have proposed a bill to tighten sanctions against IEA officials in response to human rights violations in Afghanistan.

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TTP launching attacks using Afghan soil, says Pakistan’s interior minister



(Last Updated On: June 3, 2023)

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has once again claimed that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is launching attacks against the country using Afghanistan’s soil. 

“The position of the Afghan government is that they say we do not support Tehreek-e-Taliban against the government of Pakistan, but we have complaints about them, the people of this group enter Pakistan from Afghanistan; almost two months ago, they (Islamic Emirate) told us that we are moving them further away from the border so that they do not have access to attack Pakistan,” said Rana Sanaullah in an interview. 

The Islamic Emirate meanwhile has consistently emphasized that no group will be allowed to use Afghan soil against other countries.

“Afghan soil is not used against anyone and we do not allow Afghan soil to be used against Pakistan or any other country,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, IEA’s spokesman. 

“The policy of the Islamic Emirate has been analyzed in the light of Afghanistan’s issues and the country’s national interests, which is indeed a neutral and balanced policy adopted within the framework of international interests and international security,” said Hatef Mokhtar, a political analyst.

This comes after a high-ranking delegation of IEA officials, led by Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Pakistan for talks. At a meeting with Pakistani officials in Islamabad, they emphasized the need for the expansion of diplomatic relations and bilateral cooperation.

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