Pakistani government sworn in during historic ceremony

News article, posted 06.05.2013, from Pakistan, in:
Bailey Cahall
Pakistani government sworn in during historic ceremony

A new chapter

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who will officially take office on June 5, and other newly elected members of Pakistan's National Assembly were sworn in on Saturday, marking the first time power has been transferred between two democratically elected civilian governments (ET, Guardian).  While this is Sharif's third turn as prime minister, almost two-thirds of the legislators are first-time assembly members.  The new government, dominated by members of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, faces many challenges including an ailing economy, massive energy shortages, and ongoing militant activity that has killed thousands.  Elsewhere in politics, after the poor showing of the Pakistan People's Party in the recent parliamentary elections, current President Asif Ali Zardari confirmed that he will not run for another term when his presidency expires in September (ET). 

In response to a letter by the World Health Organization about  the recent closure of the Monitoring and Coordination Cell for polio, Pakistan's caretaker Premier Mir Hazar Khan Khoso ordered its immediate restoration Sunday (Dawn, ET).  Khoso announced the reversal after learning about the implications of the cell's closure on national eradication efforts, including a potential loss of $130 million in aid from the Bill Gates Foundation (ET).  There have been 1079 cases of polio in Pakistan since 2001 (Dawn). 

Haji Rehman, the principal of a government high school in Pastawana, was killed Saturday night when armed militants entered his home and opened fire (ET, UPI).  It is unclear why Rehman was targeted, though locals believe the Pakistani Taliban killed him for being "pro-government." 

Regional powerbroker?

Seven senior Afghan Taliban negotiators returned on Monday from a three-day visit to Tehran (AP, ET).  The delegation, led by Tayyeb Agha, traveled from the Taliban's political office in Qatar to Iran at the invitation of the Iranian government - an interesting development as the Sunni Taliban have long been enemies of Iran's ruling Shia clerics.  While the exact topics of discussion are unknown, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said the group's political wing would accept any invitation for conferences, a possible sign of movement in so-far fruitless negotiations.  An unknown Taliban source was also quoted as saying the visit was aimed at reassuring Tehran that all ethnic and sectarian groups will be represented in any post-NATO government (Pajhwok). 


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