Abbasi should remain Pakistan’s PM till election: Nawaz Sharif | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Abbasi should remain Pakistan’s PM till election: Nawaz Sharif

Sharif had initially announced Abbasi would be made interim prime minister until his brother Shehbaz is elected as an MP in order to become the premier.

world Updated: Aug 09, 2017 19:36 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif speaks with foreign minister Khawaj Asif during a meeting in Islamabad on August 9, 2017.
Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif speaks with foreign minister Khawaj Asif during a meeting in Islamabad on August 9, 2017. (Reuters)

Pakistan’s ousted premier Nawaz Sharif made it clear on Wednesday that he expected newly elected Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to continue till the general election due next year, scuttling a move to elevate his brother Shehbaz Sharif to the top post.

Sharif has asked his younger brother, who is the chief minister of the politically crucial Punjab province, to continue in that position.

Soon after the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif, 67, in connection with the Panama Papers case last month, he had announced that Abbasi, 58, would be made the interim prime minister till Shehbaz could be elected as a member of the National Assembly.

“It is my wish that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi remains prime minister till the end of the (PML-N’s) tenure,” Sharif told senior leaders of the ruling party during a meeting at Punjab House here before setting off on a rally to Lahore.

Sharif said the work Shehbaz had done in Punjab was invaluable and it was important he continued doing the same work in the province.

File photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at the Parliament House in Islamabad on August 1, 2017. (AFP)

Wednesday was an eventful day for Sharif and his party as thousands of PML-N supporters came out on the streets to greet him as he slowly made his way from Islamabad to his hometown of Lahore. Parts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi came to a halt as thousands gathered in a show of strength to greet Sharif and attend rallies organised by the PML-N at different points along his route.

Despite security fears, sparked by an explosion in a truck on the route of the rally earlier this week, Sharif has vowed to push ahead with his drive. He is expected to take two days or more to reach Lahore while travelling along the historic Grand Trunk Road.

“I am going to my home. I’ve been sent home (by the judiciary), so am I now not supposed to go home?” he asked, in response to a question about these security concerns.

Sharif also told the media, “Many days have passed now. A new government has been formed, a new prime minister has come, a new cabinet has been made. So now I think I should go home.”

Supporters present at the start of Sharif’s journey from Islamabad waved flags and danced to songs proclaiming him to be “the beat of our hearts”. Sharif is travelling in a specially constructed bomb-proof container van.

Speaking on the eve of his departure, Sharif said Pakistan had only seen “a crippled democracy”. He asked: “Will the nation’s mandate ever be respected?

“Or will it continue to be dishonoured and ignored? Will we ever have the rule of law in this country? Will we have the rule of the people’s mandate?”

Sharif’s motorcade will make its way through the PML-N’s political heartland in Punjab province, stopping often for public gatherings and rallies over the planned two-day journey.