ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ruling party is considering to appoint ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shahbaz as his successor to fight the 2018 general elections.
Shahbaz Sharif, 65, the current Chief Minister of Punjab will need to be first elected to the National Assembly before he can take over as leader of the country.
Sharif quit after he was disqualified by the Supreme Court over undeclared assets.
The court has also ordered a criminal investigation into the former prime minister and his family.
Sharif’s PML-N party is due to meet on Saturday and will likely appoint a short-term leader to fill the vacuum until Sharif’s younger brother becomes an elected lawmaker, according to the English-language News and Dawn newspapers.
“This decision was taken here at the PM House on Friday,” the News reported on Saturday.
Among possible allies to replace Sharif in the short term are members of his outgoing cabinet including Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
If elected, the interim leader would be in power for at least 45 days until Shahbaz steps down as the head of the Punjab government, and contests a by-election to the national assembly.
Whoever replaces Sharif will have to tackle Pakistan’s worsening ties with the United States, frayed relations with India, and persistent attacks by militants
The state of the economy has also began to concern economists, who are warning an over-valued currency is hurting exports and urge action over a ballooning current account deficit.
Shahbaz Sharif has been in charge of Punjab since 2008, building a reputation as a competent administrator focused on building infrastructure. He also has better relations with the military than his brother.
The opposition has hailed the Supreme Court’s decision to remove Nawaz Sharif as a sign of progress and greater accountability in a nation where impunity is rife.
“They have given Pakistan hope. This is what everyone is celebrating,” Imran Khan, cricketer-turned-politician who leads the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – Reuters
Story first published: 29th July 2017