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New Pakistani Parliament Takes Oath In Historic Handover

Pakistan's incoming prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, waves to his party's newly elected MPs in Lahore on May 20.
Pakistan's new parliament has been sworn in in the capital, Islamabad, in that country's first-ever democratic transition of power.

The oath ceremony took place amid tight security around the city's "Red Zone," where key government buildings are located.

A new speaker should be elected by secret ballot on June 3.

The new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League-N party won May’s elections, should be formally elected by the lower house and sworn in two days later.

Sharif's party commands 177 of the 342 seats in the assembly.

That gives it significant leverage if it seeks to oust President Asif Ali Zardari when his term expires in September.

Zardari was credited with steering Pakistan to its democratic milestone by holding together the fractious coalition government led by his Pakistan People's Party for its full five-year term.

On May 31, Sharif denounced a suspected U.S. drone attack that was said to have killed the Pakistani Taliban’s second-in-command, Wali-ur Rehman Masud.

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In a statement, Sharif expressed "deep disappointment" over the strike, thought to be the latest such attack in the United States' ongoing efforts to target senior Islamist militants accused of destabilizing the region and exporting international terrorism.

The statement described the May 29 attack that killed Rehman and allies as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and international law. The statement did not mention Rehman.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters