Shahbaz Sharif, younger brother of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, will become the new premier of Pakistan
Shahbaz Sharif, younger brother of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, will become the new premier of Pakistan, according to ANI. To become the Prime Minister, Shahbaz would have to first resign from his present position as Punjab chief minister. He would then have to contest on a National Assembly seat to get elected. It would take around two months for the completion of the entire process.
Nawaz had to resign today from the post of Prime Minister after being held guilty in Panama Papers case by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. In the unanimous judgment, the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz from holding his office. According to Pakistan’s Dawn.com, the judges ruled that Nawaz was “dishonest to Parliament and the courts and could not be deemed fit for his office.”
The landmark judgment is unique in the history of the country where power elites are rarely subjected to any scrutiny. It has, however, not only raised concerns about the fragile democracy in the country but also pushed it into political uncertainty. Several names to replace Sharif were doing the round, including Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Nawaz’s younger brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, speaker of the National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal.
Even as the SC had asked Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain to take charge of the country’s affairs for the time being, Nawaz is still the head of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party. And, he holds the power to put the man of his choice in the PM’s chair.
According to IANS, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif is considered to be one of the most trusted men of Nawaz and speculations were rife that he would succeed Nawaz. A former banker, Asif has held a number of top positions within the PML-N since 1991. IANS reported that Asif was considered to be a strong critic of Pakistan’s powerful military. His hardline stand against military had earlier reportedly put Nawaz in trouble in past.
Shabaz Sharif is the younger brother of Nawaz and considered more intelligent but less charismatic than the ousted PM Nawaz. Reports earlier said the PML-N was planning to bring-in an interim PM for a few weeks before electing Shahbaz for the post.
National Assembly speaker Sadiq was considered close to Sharif family. To his credit, Sadiq had defeated Nawaz’s main rival Imran Khan in Lahore during the 2013 general election. The fourth contender Iqbal was from a political family close to Sharif’s party.
Despite these names doing the rounds, it was also expected that the ruling PML-N may disintegrate. Pakistani author and journalist Zahid Hussain told Dawn.com that no one can be sure about the next PM. According to Zahid, the situation in Pakistan is “very uncertain”. He believes the party may disintegrate and it has little chances in the next elections. Karachi-based lawyer Salahuddin Ahmed told the Pakistani media that Asif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi may chance as per Pakistani media reports.
Pakistan’s The Express Tribune published an AFP report today claiming the leading contenders for PM post were Shahbaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Ahsan Iqbal. Pakistan interior minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan was also in the race but his relation with Nawaz has reportedly deteriorated.