Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has been declared the winner in the Pakistan prime minister elections today. Ashraf is a member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and is now the 25th Prime Minister of Pakistan. The PPP candidate received 211 votes while the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) candidate Sardar Mehtab Abbasi only received 89 votes. A third candidate of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI-F), Fazlur Rehman, withdrew his intent for the prime minister position and remained impartial as he did not vote.
The election came about after the Pakistani Supreme Court dismissed then Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani and issued arrest warrants for the PPP’s other first nominee, Makhdoom Shahabuddin.
According to many locals, the prime minister elect, Ashraf is a controversial decision. Ashraf has been accused of corruption when he was the water and power minister and other questionable governmental acts. Ashraf told his supporters that solving the energy crisis is his first priority.
Now that Pakistan has officially picked their new prime minister, how will the international landscape change for Pakistan? Primarily, what will become of US and Pakistan’s relationship? Will Prime Minister Ashraf coordinate with President Obama and other NATO leaders over aiding Western authorities against Taliban and al Qaeda militants? All of this is yet to be seen.
From President Obama’s standpoint, the US has a chance to regain Pakistani support for the US mission in Afghanistan. However, the US needs to be careful and realize that our presence is not very favorable in Pakistan, let along the region as well.
Pakistan is a key ally in the region and possibly some aid in exchange for military support would fit the bill for the rekindling of the US-Pakistan relationship. Honestly, it just depends on Ashraf’s opinions on terrorism and the US. Since Ashraf and ex-Prime Minister Gilani are a part of the same party (PPP), it is likely that their opinions could be very similar which doesn’t help out the US or NATO for that matter.
The bottom line here is that the Supreme Court of Pakistan found Gilani to be an ineffective leader for the country. After dismissing Gilani, the country held another election to decide the new Prime Minister. After the election, the PPP has won again but with Ashraf as the head of government. As for the US, they likely face an uphill battle to win the support of the Pakistanis.