Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is set to succeed his brother Nawaz Sharif as the Pakistan prime minister, may nominate his son Hamza Shahbaz as the new head of the second largest province of the country, according to a media report. According to sources at Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), however, the final say on the decision on who gets to helm Punjab rests with ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is looking to consolidate the party’s control in Punjab province. The PML-N cannot afford to lose its grip on Punjab at this time, especially since the next general elections are barely a year away, a senior PML-N leader was quoted as saying Dawn News. “Shehbaz wants his son, who is already acting as the deputy chief minister, to succeed him for the remaining term in Punjab. However, [it is up to] Nawaz Sharif to decide whether Hamza will be the right choice for the post or not,” said a senior PML-N legislator from Punjab.
“Whoever is nominated for the post will follow instructions from Shahbaz…but his level of comfort with his son will be higher than with an ‘outsider’. At the same time, Shahbaz wants to give his son the experience he needs to serve at the top level,” the legislator, who was not identified, said. The PML-N leader added that Shehbaz would continue to oversee matters in Punjab indirectly, while his elder brother Nawaz Sharif would govern the Centre from his Raiwind residence.
Sharif stepped down after the Supreme Court disqualified him for failing to declare “receivable” salary from a UAE- based company of his son in his 2013 nomination paper. The court termed the salary which was not paid to Sharif as an “asset”. Senior PML-N leader and former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will run the PML-N government as interim prime minister of Pakistan until Shehbaz is elected as member of parliament.