Maryam Nawaz’s selection as Punjab CM a ‘milestone’ in Pakistani politics: US

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The selection of Maryam Nawaz as the chief minister of the Punjab province is a milestone in Pakistani politics, the US has said, asserting that it looks forward to cooperating with Islamabad on integrating women more fully into the country’s political life. Maryam, the 50-year-old daughter of three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, took oath as the first-ever woman chief minister of Pakistan’s most populous and politically crucial Punjab province last week.

“Her (Maryam Nawaz Sharif) selection as chief minister is a milestone in Pakistani politics,” State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday. Maryam is considered the political heir to 74-year-old Nawaz Sharif, the three-time former prime minister.

“We look forward to cooperating with Pakistan more broadly on integrating women more fully into the country’s political life, in the economy, including through the US-Pakistan Women’s Council, civil society, and other decision-making spaces,” he said. “An inclusive Pakistan makes for a strong, prosperous country which all Pakistanis benefit from, and so we are always pleased when we see cracks in the glass ceiling anywhere in the world,” Miller said in response to a question.

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However, he refrained from commenting on the election of the new prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif. On Monday, Shehbaz, 72, assumed the cash-strapped country’s reins for a second time, nearly a month after an inconclusive election marred by allegations of vote rigging.

“I’m not going to speak with respect to the new prime minister, but as we’ve said before, we value our longstanding partnership with Pakistan and have always viewed a strong, prosperous, and democratic Pakistan as critical to US-Pakistan interests, and our engagement with new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his government will continue to focus on advancing these shared interests,” Miller said.