Pakistan’s ruling party reportedly intends to appoint the brother of just ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as his successor and its nominee to contest the 2018 general elections.
However, the 65-year-old Shahbaz Sharif, who currently serves as the chief minister of the country’s Punjab Province, will first need to be elected as a lawmaker to the National Assembly before he can assume the top leadership post.
On Friday, Sharif was forced to step down following a Supreme Court ruling that deemed him disqualified over corruption charges.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Party is due to meet later on Saturday to appoint a short-term leader to fill the vacuum until Sharif’s younger brother is elected to the country’s National Assembly, the reports added, adding that the decision was taken at the official PM House on Friday.
Shahbaz Sharif has run Punjab – which accounts for more than half of Pakistan’s 190 million population — since 2008, emerging as a competent administrator focused on building infrastructure. He reportedly also maintains better ties with the country’s powerful military than his elder brother.
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.
If elected, the interim leader would remain in power for at least 45 days until Shahbaz quits as the chief of Punjab and wins a by-election to the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s high court has also ordered a criminal probe into the ousted prime minister and his family.
Sharif has persistently rejected the corruption charges leveled against him.
His ouster has renewed concerns over Pakistan’s democracy after a member of the PML-N) party suggested that elements within the powerful military had influenced the high court’s ruling against him.
“We know very well what the crime of Nawaz Sharif and the Muslim League is. What do we ask for? We ask for civilian supremacy in Pakistan,” Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq stated during a news briefing.
Questioned further, however, Rafiq would not identify the military as a whole.
This is while the country’s army officials have not commented on Sharif’s ouster or reported accusations of their involvement in the ruling.
Meanwhile, the opposition has welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling against Sharif as a sign of progress and greater accountability in the country.
“They have given Pakistan hope. This is what everyone is celebrating,” said opposition PTI party leader Imran Khan on Friday.