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Panama Papers leaks: Shahbaz could be brother Nawaz Sharif’s successor

Sources said Shahbaz, who escaped indictment in the JIT’s report, is now being reinforced as an “all-important player” of the Sharif family.

world Updated: Jul 16, 2017 07:25 IST
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,Shahbaz Sharif,ruling PML-N party
File photo of Punjab province Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.(Reuters)

Pakistani political circles are abuzz with speculation that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shahbaz Sharif could replace the premier if he is disqualified from office after the Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) recommendation for filing a fresh anti-graft case over the Panama Papers leaks.

According to sources, Shahbaz, who escaped indictment in the JIT’s report, is now being reinforced as an “all-important player” of the Sharif family if Nawaz and his three children receive an adverse court decision in the case.

“There has been a lot of talk in the party about the possibility of Shahbaz replacing Nawaz in case the latter is disqualified,” influential daily Dawn quoted a member of the ruling PML-N party as saying.

“But the big question is, does the PML-N leadership trust Shahbaz blindly and will it allow him to play a role in the Centre or (will it) choose someone else in the party or will it go for any other option,” the leader said.

Shahbaz — the chief minister of the most populous province of Punjab — was present at a Tuesday meeting of party stalwarts chaired by Nawaz to discuss the situation arising out of the JIT report.

The JIT pointed out what media reports have referred to as “categorical foul play” on the part of the prime minister and his family. The JIT’s report has not been made public but the media quoted it as saying that investigators had found the Sharif family owned multiple offshore companies.

The team recommended the filing of a case against Sharif and his family by the National Accountability Bureau, the country’s main anti-corruption watchdog.

The JIT has also accused the prime minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz of submitting fake documents.

Following the report, opposition parties have demanded that Nawaz Sharif immediately step down from office.

First Published: Jul 12, 2017 21:26 IST