The National Assembly elected a new Prime Minister this week, with PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif becoming Pakistan’s 23rd Prime Minister. While the next general elections are not too far away, the next six to eighteen months being a likely timeframe, Sharif’s record in that time will go a long way towards determining the election’s outcome.
In his time as the Chief Minister of Punjab, Sharif built a reputation as a man who got things done. And to be fair to him, some of the progress he made was objectively impressive. Between 2014 to 2017, routine immunization coverage in Punjab improved from 62% to 84%, while skilled birth attendance similarly increased from 65% to 84%, earning him praise from the WHO. In education, from 2011 to 2018, 5th grade children’s learning levels in rural Punjab in English, Urdu and division rose by 15%, 8% and 14% respectively. Meanwhile, his determination to build mass transit projects such as metro buses and the Orange Line was initially mocked by opponents, only for the PTI to come into power and try and emulate those projects in Peshawar and Karachi.
However, Sharif had the benefit in Punjab of a familiar terrain and a comfortable majority in the provincial assembly. Now, he is a Prime Minister elected by a weak coalition on a two-seat majority, with the pressure to govern provinces that have largely rejected his party as a Punjab-centric entity. All this at a time when the economy is in a tailspin, and the ex-Prime Minister is on the campaign trail looking for vengeance. Good luck to him.
KSE-100 rose this week, posting the highest weekly growth rate in two years, as the country’s political crisis defused with the election of a new government. PKR appreciated this week, as the State Bank revealed positive remittances figures. Local gold prices fell slightly this week.
What Else We’re Reading (Local)
- The PTI government introduced three amnesty schemes in less than four years. Did it make any difference? (Profit)
- Should the price of petrol be raised? And if so, by how much? (Business Recorder)
What Else We’re Reading (International)
- Nearly USD 10 billion are being bet on the future of the cryptocurrency Ethereum, as it unveiled a software revision that it claims will dramatically reduce its energy consumption. (Bloomberg)
- 158 Palestinians were injured as Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. (Al Jazeera)