Pakistan: Maryam Nawaz becomes first woman CM of Punjab province

PML-N leader: 'The doors of my heart and office will remain open for the opposition as well'

By AP

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Maryam Nawaz Sharif arrives at the Punjab Assembly in Lahore on Monday.— AFP
Maryam Nawaz Sharif arrives at the Punjab Assembly in Lahore on Monday.— AFP

Published: Mon 26 Feb 2024, 1:18 PM

Last updated: Mon 26 Feb 2024, 2:12 PM

The eldest daughter and close aide of Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday became the country’s first-ever female chief minister in eastern Punjab province.

Mariam Nawaz, 50, was elected chief minister in a 220-0 vote in her favour, beating out rival for the post, Rana Aftab, who was nominated by the Sunni Ittehad Council, an ally of imprisoned former prime minister Imran Khan.


Opposition lawmakers supporting Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament in 2022, boycotted the session of the 371-member Punjab Assembly.

Nawaz thanked God in televised remarks and promised she would equally serve those who voted for her and those who opposed her. “The doors of my heart and office will remain open for the opposition as well,” she said.


Nawaz's appointment was largely expected following the February 8 parliamentary elections in which her father's Pakistan Muslim League party, or PML-N, emerged as the largest party in the National Assembly or lower house of the parliament and in the Punjab Assembly.

The PML-N, which was initially trailing candidates representing Khan's supporters — the former cricket player turned Islamist politician was barred from running — emerged last Friday as the largest single winner in the election after receiving 24 additional seats — 20 from out of the 60 seats reserved for women, as well as four seats out of 10 reserved for minorities. Nine independent members have also joined the PML-N.

The PML-N is now heading into a coalition with the Pakistan People’s Party, or PPP, with Nawaz's uncle, former prime minister Shahbaz Sharif, on a firm path to becoming the next prime minister, his second term in office.

The Sharifs are one of the top two families that have dominated Pakistani politics for decades. Nawaz Sharif, who served three times as a premier, was ousted from power in 2017 in a graft case. Khan, who replaced Sharif in 2018, granted him permission to travel to London for medical treatment following a court order.

Sharif came back to Pakistan from self-imposed exile abroad and returned to politics ahead of the elections. In her father's absence, Nawaz had led political campaigns and taken over his work.


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