New Pak PM Soon; Nawaz Sharif May Pick Wife Over Brother

Posted July 31, 2017

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif got the boot yesterday after the country's Supreme Court sacked him on the strength of a damning corruption probe into his family wealth.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's younger brother Shahbaz has been named as his successor in a proposal unanimously adopted by their party.

Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party has a strong majority in parliament and would easily install Abbasi as the new leader of the country.

Abbasi has been elected six times as a member of the National Assembly since then, and has previously served as minister for commerce and defence production.

The court said in its judgment that it was disqualifying Sharif for failing to disclose his monthly salary of 10,000 dirhams ($2,700) from a company owned by his son in the United Arab Emirates.

The final nomination will be recognised in the party's parliamentary meeting.

The odds are in favour of the former as picking Shehbaz, who is the chief minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, could bring in another legal trouble for Nawaz Sharif, sources said.

He has also represented Pakistan at several worldwide forums including the United Nations, where his views and speaking prowess were appreciated.

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The ruling party is moving fast to quell the political turmoil following Nawaz Sharif's ousting, the second world leader to be felled by last year's so-called Panama Papers leak.

Expressing his happiness with the verdict, the PTI chairman said: "I am thankful to all my supporters and the masses who played a vital role during our campaign against corruption".

The quick handover looks to ease political upheaval sparked by the Supreme Court's decision on Friday to disqualify Sharif for concealing his assets.

Among possible figures being considered to replace the 67-year-old Sharif in the short term are members of his outgoing cabinet, including Defense Minister Asif Khawaja, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Petroleum Minister Shahid Abbasi, press reports indicate. Now, after almost two decades, the ousted prime minister has chosen him to step into his shoes, though for a short stint of 45 days.

Shahbaz Sharif has been in charge of Punjab since 2008, building a reputation as a competent administrator focused on building infrastructure.

Shahbaz will likely seek election to the National Assembly from Nawaz Sharif's constituency, which is a PML-N stronghold. Elections are expected to be held by May 2018.

This is the third time Nawaz Sharif has been ousted before completing his term. In 1999, military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf overthrew Sharif in a bloodless coup and exiled him to Saudi Arabia.