Sharif cements power base with presidential election

    By IANS,

    Islamabad: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has strengthened his grip on power with his nominee Mamnoon Hussain winning Tuesday’s presidential election.

    Hussain, a senior leader of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and a businessman from the port city of Karachi, will be sworn in as the 12th president of Pakistan for a five-year term Sep 9, reports Xinhua.

    He will succeed incumbent Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the main opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

    Hussain resigned as governor of the southern province of Sindh after Sharif’s government was overthrown in a bloodless coup by then military chief General Pervez Musharraf in October 1999.

    Political analysts said Hussain was picked for the highest position because of his loyalty to Sharif during the difficult time when Musharraf dismissed Sharif and sent him into exile in 1999.

    It is believed that Sharif also chose Hussain as he wanted to dispel the impression that his PML-N was only a party of Punjab, the country’s biggest province.

    Hussain’s selection may be a move to gain political influence in Sindh, a stronghold of the PPP.

    Sharif has also sent a positive message to the Urdu-speaking and business community in Karachi that he has chosen their representative for the presidency.

    Sharif has already won praise when he offered the chief minister in the restive southwestern province of Balochisran to another party despite his PML-N’s majority in the provincial assembly.

    He also accepted the mandate of his political rival Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

    Sharif’s PML-N also succeeded in winning the votes of its political rival the Mutahiad Qaumi Movement (MQM), a powerful group of the Urdu-speaking community in Karachi.

    MQM had been part of Pervez Mushharf’s cabinet and the PPP’s coalition partner.

    Despite boycott by the main opposition PPP and its allies, the presidential election in the national parliament and the four provincial assemblies was smooth.

    The boycott reflected Pakistan’ s traditional political polarization which will cause some tensions in the future.

    However, it is a positive sign that PPP president Makhdoom Amin Fahim said his party had accepted Hussain as the Pakistani president despite the boycott.

    Sharif will not have concern about misuse of the presidency by Hussain nor face problem to get all legislation signed by the president.

    The presidential election is another landmark development in Pakistan after the May 11 general elections.

    There was a smooth transition from one democratic government to another for the first time in the country’s 65-year history.