Who are Shehbaz Sharif and Khaqan Abbasi, PLM-N’s replacements for Nawaz Sharif as Pakistan PM
Pakistan’s ruling PML-N party is set to name leading businessman-politician Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the interim premier following Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification as the prime minister by the Supreme Court for dishonesty in declaring his assets.
Abbasi, the US-educated founder of the private airline airblue, is expected to serve as premier for 45 days till Sharif’s younger brother, Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif, is elected to the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament.
Here are some essential facts about the two leaders of the PML-N:
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
• The son of a former Pakistan Air Force officer, he was born on December 27, 1958.
• He was educated at Lawrence College, Murree and University of California, Los Angeles, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He also has a master’s in the same subject from George Washington University, Washington.
• He worked as an engineer in the US and the Middle East in the 1980s.
• He held the petroleum and natural resources portfolio in Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet and earlier served as commerce minister in 2008.
• He is the founder and CEO of airblue, one of Pakistan’s few private airlines. In 2010, Abbasi was involved in a controversy over the payment of compensation to families of more than 150 people who died when an airblue flight crashed in Islamabad.
• Born on September 23, 1951, he is the son of late Mian Muhammad Sharif, a pioneer in business in Pakistan, and the younger brother of three-time premier Nawaz Sharif.
• He is currently in his third term as chief minister of Punjab — Pakistan’s most populous and prosperous province.
• Widely described as a workoholic, he is seen as a better administrator and a doer, but is less charismatic and less popular than his elder brother.
• He has a bachelor’s degree in arts from the Government College University, Lahore.
• He has a better relationship with the army and has sometimes acted as an intermediary between the army and the PML-N. He was removed from office along with his brother during the 1999 coup by then army chief Pervez Musharraf, arrested and then forced into exile in Saudi Arabia.
• He has struggled with health concerns in recent years, including backbone cancer, and travels abroad several times a year for treatment.
• He is married to author Tehmina Durrani. His first wife is his cousin Nusrat Shehbaz and their son, Hamza, is widely tipped to replace Shehbaz as chief minister if Shehbaz becomes the premier.
• In 2010, he created a controversy by saying in a speech that the Taliban should not target Punjab province as the group and the PML-N had opposed military dictator Pervez Musharraf and rejected dictation from abroad.
• Unlike his elder brother, Shehbaz is an active user of social media and frequently posts on Twitter and Facebook, using both platforms to engage with the public.