Pakistan’s newly-elected interim Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will likely continue as as premier for the remaining 10-month tenure of PML-N as the party chief and ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif has indicated retaining his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif in the key province. Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified by Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case on July 28, had nominated his brother Shahbaz Sharif to succeed him after winning a by-election on his vacant seat in Lahore.
Abbasi, 58, was endorsed by Sharif to hold the post for interim arrangement of 45 days (till mid-September) till Shahbaz makes to Islamabad. “Sharif is holding a high-level huddle of PML-N senior leaders today in Murree to review his earlier decision to elevate Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to the Centre or not,” a PML-N senior leader told PTI. After Abbasi was elected prime minister last Tuesday, he said many in the Nawaz camp suggested that the former retain the position for the remaining term of the PML-N government as Punjab is very important for the party and cannot be left to an “inexperienced hand”. Also Read: New Pakistan PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi delays Cabinet formation
“The PML-N legislators including Punjab law minister Rrana Sanaullah have conveyed to Sharif that it will not be a wise move to elevate Shahbaz in the Centre as there will be no experience hand in the party to run the largest province in his absence,” he said, adding that the Sharif camp does not want Shahbaz in the Centre as well. There are also reports that Sharif’s refusal to nominate Shahbaz’s son Hamza as the chief minister of Punjab has annoyed him who might choose not to give up the post in the province because of it.
“Nawaz’s daughter Maryam is against handing over Punjab to Hamza while his father is at the Centre. But Shahbaz appeared too keen to keep both posts in the family. This is another reason of Shahbaz’s reluctance to leave Punjab to someone other than his son,” another PML-N insider said. The Shahbaz government’s spokesperson Malik Ahmad Khan told PTI that the party leadership is sitting together to revisit its earlier decision of endorsing Shahbaz for prime minister.
“The final decision whether Shahbaz Sharif contests from NA-120 Lahore to succeed Abbasi will be taken in a day or two,” he added.