PML-N backs Shehbaz as Nawaz Sharif’s successor, to name Abbasi as interim PM
Pakistan’s ruling PML-N party is expected to formally name Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s successor following his disqualification, and former minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the interim premier.
Hours after he was ousted on Friday by the Supreme Court for dishonesty in declaring his assets, Pakistani media reported that Sharif had told a meeting of top PML-N leaders he wanted his younger brother Shehbaz to succeed him.
An informal meeting chaired by Sharif on Saturday decided to rally behind Shehbaz after discussions that spanned four hours, the media reported. The meeting also zeroed in on Abbasi, a leading businessman and leader of the PLM-N, as the person who would hold the post of PM till Shebaz, a member of the provincial assembly of Punjab, is elected to Parliament.
Reports suggested the PML-N would nominate another MP to serve as interim prime minister for the 45-day period during which the ruling party can prove its majority in Parliament and elect a new leader of the House.
There were also reports the PML-N had mulled the option of nominating an MP who would serve as premier for the remaining tenure of the government but this appears to have been dropped. Elections are expected to be held by May 2018.
Earlier, among the names doing the rounds for interim prime minister were former federal ministers Rana Tanveer, Khwaja Asif and Khurram Dastagir Khan and National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq. Some circles also named Sharif’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz as a possible candidate.
Sharif has moved out of the sprawling Prime Minister House’s in the heart of Islamabad and into the nearby Punjab House. All members of his cabinet have been denotified and their protocol has been removed.
At many public places such as airports and train stations, Sharif’s picture has been removed. There were no reports of major disturbances in any city following the Supreme Court’s verdict except for some minor skirmishes between workers of different parties in Islamabad.
The top court also directed the National Accountability Bureau, the main anti-corruption watchdog, to file a case against Sharif, his children Maryam, Hussain and Hassan and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar for owning offshore assets. It also ordered a criminal investigation against finance minister Ishaq Dar, who is related to Sharif.