Nawaz Sharif has picked a veteran finance minister to serve in his cabinet as Karachi stocks hit an all-time high Monday over hopes his pro-business agenda can revive the economy.
Sharif, who has sought to present himself as a pragmatist who can do business with the United States and improve relations with nuclear rival India, won a resounding victory in Saturday’s landmark polls.
Sharif will likely need only the estimated 27 independents and his proportion of seats reserved for women and minorities, to secure a majority in the first democratic transition in a country accustomed to long periods of military rule.
US President Barack Obama said Washington was ready to work with Islamabad “as equal partners” and welcomed the transition.
India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he hoped to chart “a new course” in relations.
Sharif’s biggest challenges are likely to be fixing the shattered economy, an appalling energy crisis and tackling Islamist militancy.
PML-N spokesman Siddiqul Farooq said the party had secured a “comfortable majority” at the national level and a “two-thirds majority” in Punjab province, where Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz would return as chief minister.
Ishaq Dar, who served as finance minister in Sharif’s second administration and again briefly in 2008, would return to the job, the spokesman said.
Dar had “all the facts and figures at his fingertips” and will in June present the budget for the next financial year starting on July 1, Farooq said.
“We have credibility on the economic front, the unprecedented surge in the stock market today is proof,” the PML-N spokesman said.