Nawaz Sharif Returns to Post as Prime Minister in Historic Election
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League dominated parliamentary elections in May 2013. Trailing were the Movement for Justice Party (PTI), led by cricket star Imran Khan, and the governing Pakistan People's Party (PPP). The historic election marked the first time in the coup-prone country that a civilian government served out its full five-year term and transferrred power after a democratic election. Khan, who appealed to younger voters, was expected to poll much better and alleged the election was marred by vote-rigging. Sharif formed alliances with smaller parties to establish a majority, and Parliament elected him prime minister in June. He served as prime minister from 1990 to 1993 and 1997 to 1999. A fiscal conservative who favors deregulation, Sharif campaigned on promises to boost the economy and curtail Pakistan's cooperation with the U.S. in its war on terrorists. Upon taking office, he called on the U.S. to halt its drone strikes into tribal areas on Pakistani soil. His request came days after a U.S. drone strike killed Wali-ur-Rehman, the Pakistan Taliban's second highest-ranking leader.
A 336-page document was leaked in July 2013, reviving questions about Pakistani government collusion in the hiding of Osama bin Laden. Compiled from the testimony of more than 200 witnesses—including military and civilian officials and the three widows of Bin Laden—the report called out the government's "culpable incompetence and negligence," but fell short of implicating the government in active partnering with Al-Qaeda.
The national and provincial parliaments elected Mamnoon Hussain president in July 2013. Hussain, of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, defeated Wajihuddin Ahmad, a former Supreme Court justice. The opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) boycotted the election, saying there was not enough time to campaign before the election. Hussain is a businessman with little political experience beyond briefly serving as governor of Sindh Province in 1999. Zardari is the first democratically elected president to finish his term and hand power to a successor. Since Zardari returned many of his powers to parliament in 2010, the role of president is largely ceremonial.
In September 2013, two suicide bombers linked to the Taliban attacked the All Saints Church in Peshawar, killing more than 80 people and destroying the historic church. It was the deadliest attack against Christians in Pakistan's history. Shiites, also a religious minority in Pakistan, have also been targeted by the Taliban in the past year. The ongoing attacks by the Taliban prompted many to question if the government should move ahead with plans to begin negotiations with the Taliban.
On September 23, 2013, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit Baluchistan, an area of deserts and mountains in Pakistan. The earthquake caused hundreds of mud houses to collapse on residents. At least 327 people were killed.