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Central & South Asia

Profile: Nawaz Sharif

Steel magnate from Punjab is hoping election results will give him a third term as prime minister.

Last Modified: 12 May 2013 23:54
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Toppled in a 1999 coup, jailed and exiled, Nawaz Sharif looks set for a third term in office as Pakistan's prime minister.

While votes from Saturday's general elections were still being counted, Sharif declared victory at the headquarters of his centre-right Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

According to preliminary results, the wealthy steel magnate from Punjab province held off a challenge from former cricket star Imran Khan who had hoped to break decades of dominance by Sharif and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

The 63-year-old has promised to transform the country's economy, end corruption in state-owned enterprises, build a motorway from Lahore to Karachi, Pakistan's business capital, and launch a bullet train.

Prime minister twice already, from 1990 to 1993, and from 1997 to 1999, but softly spoken and shy with the international media, Sharif is considered a pragmatist in the West despite comments opposing US intervention in the war on al-Qaeda.

He has also called for peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, blamed for killing thousands of Pakistanis in the past six years.

Corruption allegations

Sharif was born in 1949 into a wealthy family of industrialists in Lahore.

He was educated privately at English-language schools and secured a degree in law from the University of Punjab before joining his father's steel company.

Spotlight
Coverage of 2013 general election across the politically divided South Asian nation.

The family suffered hugely when Pakistan's centre-left prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto nationalised private industry in the 1970s and as the elder son, Sharif was quickly dispatched into politics.

Under the patronage of military ruler Zia-ul Haq he became first finance minister and then chief minister of Punjab - a post he held for five years from 1985 until he was elected prime minister in 1990.

He beat arch-rival Benazir Bhutto in the polls and served a three-year term until he was sacked on corruption charges and replaced by Bhutto.

In 1997, he won a landslide two-thirds majority for his PML-N and set about cementing his liberal economic policies.

In 1998, he won huge popularity when he made Pakistan a nuclear power, but his government buckled under tensions with the army, which in 1999 seized power.

Sharif was sentenced in a military court to life imprisonment for hijacking and terrorism, before being allowed to go into exile in Saudi Arabia in 2000.

He was allowed to return in 2007 and PML-N came second in the 2008 election, won by the PPP on a wave of sympathy following the assassination of its leader Bhutto.

Corruption, tax evasion and money-laundering allegations against the Sharifs, who have a huge family estate near Lahore, have never been proved in court.

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Source:
Agencies
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