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Pakistan's new PM calls for an end to drone strikes

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-07

Pakistan's new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for an end to US drone strikes on Wednesday in his first address to parliament, delivered soon after lawmakers endorsed him for an unprecedented third term. Sharif will be sworn in later in the day.

Pakistan's new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for an end to US drone strikes in the country's northwest tribal areas in his first address to parliament on Wednesday, soon after lawmakers endorsed him for an unprecedented third term in office.

But Sharif offered few details as to how he might bring about an end to the strikes, which many in Pakistan have called an affront to the country’s sovereignty.

Sharif’s comments are in line with previous statements he has made calling for an end to the controversial strikes, which the US considers vital to battling Islamist militants, including al Qaeda, who use the tribal areas of Pakistan as a safe haven.

Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N won a May 11 general election, receiving 244 votes in the 342-seat parliament and returning him to the prime minister’s office for an unprecedented third, though nonconsecutive, term in office.

Sharif's election marked a historic transfer of power in a country that has undergone three military coups. He was toppled by then army chief General Pervez Musharraf in 1999 and spent years in exile in Saudi Arabia before returning to the country in 2007.

He will be sworn in by the president later on Wednesday.

Sharif will face a mountain of challenges during his five-year term, including rolling electricity blackouts and militant attacks.

Moreover, the impoverished South Asian nation is burdened with growing unemployment, soaring inflation, plummeting standards of living, a massive fiscal deficit and tax-dodging elites in a country where only 0.5% of Pakistanis pay income tax, according to International Monetary Fund figures.

Levels of violence – including Islamist attacks and kidnappings – have soared, with the security forces clearly unable to maintain security.

For the average Pakistani, the frequent power cuts, sometimes stretching for 20 hours a day, are the clearest indication of the economic downturn into which the Pakistan Peoples’ Party has brought the country.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-06-05

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