LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif will not contest a parliamentary by-election for the vacant seat, party sources said on Tuesday, effectively scuttling previous plans for him to take over as prime minister in September.
Nawaz Sharif, 68, was disqualified by the Supreme Court last month but kept his grip on the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and outlined plans for Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to act as interim prime minister until his brother, Shahbaz, becomes eligible to take over by winning the by-election. But Nawaz and PML-N leadership have decided that Shehbaz should continue in his role as chief minister of Punjab.
“Shehbaz will definitely not contest for NA-120,” said one of Shehbaz’s aides in Lahore.
A senior PML-N figure in Lahore confirmed that the chief minister would not be contesting the seat, a move likely to leave Abbasi in charge until the next general elections, likely in mid-2018.
PML-N officials say the main reason Shehbaz may not take over is linked to the general elections and the party’s fears that its grip on the Punjab will weaken if he steps down as chief minister. The way country’s political system is set up means any party that sweeps Punjab will most likely go on to form a government after the 2018 poll.
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