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- Friday, June 07, 2013 - From Print Edition

The remarkable success story of the Sharif brothers continues. A day after his elder brother took the office of prime minister, Mian Shahbaz Sharif was voted in – by a huge majority of the 341 members who have taken oath in Punjab – to serve as chief minister of the province for a record third time. He claimed 300 votes as the assembled house split into lobbies, with only 34 going to his rival from the PTI. The PPP had opted to stay out of the poll. The massive margin of victory for Shahbaz Sharif was largely anticipated, and cheers rang out in the Punjab Assembly even before the speaker had read out the results of the counting. Besides possessing experience in running the affairs of the country’s largest province, Shahbaz Sharif, this time round, comes in backed by a huge majority and faces none of the hurdles he did during his last stint in the same office, when a hostile governor and threats of in-house change frequently thwarted his efforts. Many hope that the decisive mandate he and his party received on May 11 will also enable him to act from a position of real strength. People in Punjab, notably Lahore, will be hoping that the projects initiated by the PML-N government will now be successfully completed.

In his first speech to the new Punjab Assembly, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif stressed his desire to improve things as quickly as possible, speaking especially of the power crisis that has become the main concern of tens of thousands of people scattered across a province currently experiencing up to 12 hours or more of loadshedding every day. The pledge to do all that can be done to overcome the situation will undoubtedly go down well with the people of Punjab. The chief minister will also be supported by the centre. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has already called a meeting to discuss the energy crisis. The fact that this time the federal and Punjab governments will be working in tandem, with the Sharif brothers expected to work together, should certainly stand us in good stead and help improve administrative capacity. For now at least, the massive vote in favour of Shahbaz appears to have injected a new element of optimism in the people. CM Shahbaz Sharif will now need to demonstrate that he is able to deliver and offer people the competent leadership they yearn for and which has so far been denied to them.

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