Nawaz Sharif set to be Pakistan PM for a third time

Nawaz Sharif Nawaz Sharif has been re-elected to power in Pakistan after 14 years, in an election victory that New Delhi welcomed as one that augured well for ties with Islamabad. Though the vote count was still on, Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) was headed for a win in over 128 of the 272 directly elected seats of the national assembly, projections by local television news channels showed.

PML-N's tally was much higher than that of key rivals - Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party, which were each seen winning, around 30-35 each.

The two-time prime minister, once jailed and exiled following his ouster in a military coup in 1999, has promised to improve relations with India, including resuming talks on Kashmir as also launching a probe into the alleged role of Pakistan's spy agency, ISI, in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

The 63-year-old leader said the party would pick up threads from where it left, as he wanted to move toward better relations with India, for the resolution of remaining issues through peaceful means, including that of Kashmir. Sharif's family had moved from Amritsar to Pakistan post partition.

Congratulating Sharif on his "emphatic victory", prime minister Manmohan Singh said, "The people of India welcome your publicly articulated commitment to a relationship between India and Pakistan that is defined by peace, friendship and cooperation. I look forward to working with you and your government."

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal following the impressive victory of his party in the polls, Sharif recalled that his country's relationship with the US had been quite good when he was in power.

He said he would like to take the relationship further and there was a need to strengthen the relationship.

He said, the US might wish to re-examine its drone campaign or risk stoking the anti-Americanism that fed Pakistani public anger, referring to the strong opposition to the controversial drone strikes by the CIA inside Pakistan.

In response to questions on the drone strikes, Sharif said he would discuss these issues of concerns with the US leadership.

He said, these were concerns that the Pakistani people had, when asked about the drone operations.

He said the concerns would need to be addressed and he was very hopeful and confident about that.

Wall Street Journal quoted Sharif as saying that he would "seek warmer ties" with India and offered an "olive branch" to Afghanistan.