Pakistan’s lawmakers are all set to elect a new prime minister today to replace ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, with the ruling party stalwart Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expected to become interim leader. The Supreme Court on Friday disqualified 67-year-old Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal, forcing him to resign. The National Assembly, lower house of parliament, has been summoned by President Mamnon Hussain today to elect the new leader of the house. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has nominated Abbasi as interim Prime Minister until Sharif’s brother Shehbaz is eligible. Pakistan has seen such arrangements in the past too.
During former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf’s time, politician Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was appointed as an interim prime minister until Shaukat Aziz, who was nominated by Musharraf, got elected by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PMLQ). At least five candidates of opposition parties are contesting against Abbasi as opposition leader failed to agree on a single candidate.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) put forward Awami Muslim League (AML) leader Sheikh Rashid’s name for the post of prime minister. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) fielded Khursheed Shah and Naveed Qamar, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chose Kishwar Zehra, while Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) came up with Sahibzada Tariqullah.
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The opposition parties are meeting today to agree on a single candidate. But even a joint candidate cannot defeat Abbasi as his party and allies enjoy a majority in the house. The PML-N party holds 188 seats in the 342-member parliament.