Shahbaz Sharif to Succeed Nawaz as Pakistan PM; Shahid Khaqan Abbasi To Be Interim PM

Nawaz Sharif talks with his brother Shahbaz Sharif before addressing his party members who were voted to political posts in the general election, during a function in Lahore May 20, 2013. Reuters file photo.

Drazen Jorgic | Reuters

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday nominated his brother Shahbaz to eventually take over as leader of the country and lashed out at political rivals and the Supreme Court ruling that disqualified him from office.

Sharif also put forward a staunch ally from his ruling party, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as an interim prime minister while his brother contests a by-election for parliament to become eligible to take the reins.

For now, the nuclear-armed South Asian country is without a leader until parliament convenes to elect a new premier.

Dynastic politics have a long history in Pakistan, where in the past the military has staged multiple coups and no prime minister has completed a full term since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

Sharif, whose party won a majority in parliament in 2013, said he was dumbfounded by Friday’s Supreme Court ruling to disqualify him from office over unreported income from a company owned by his son in Dubai.

The court also ordered a criminal investigation into him and his family.

“My conscience is clear,” he said in his first public comments since resigning on Friday after the court ruling declared him unfit for office.

He also stressed that the court did not prove any corruption or siphoning off public money after months of investigation stemming from the revelation in last year’s “Panama Papers” leaks that his children were linked to offshore companies.

Still, Sharif said he would no longer seek public office and urged supporters to back his brother – now chief minister of Punjab province – as long-term successor.

“I have quit my office, so someone has to take it, and after a lot of consultations … Shahbaz Sharif is nominated,” Sharif said in a speech to members of his ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party.


Sharif nominated ally Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was the petroleum minister in his last cabinet, as an interim prime minister for a period of less than two months.

Sharif’s dismissal has sparked uncertainty at a time when Pakistan was enjoying a rare period of relative stability, with militant attacks slowly declining and economic growth hitting its highest pace in a decade.

PML-N has a strong majority in parliament so should have no problem appointing its choice as the new prime minister.

Sharif said he would continue fighting for Pakistan’s constitution, but did not mention any role of Pakistan’s powerful military in his dismissal.

“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 told a news briefing on Friday.

The army has not commented on Sharif’s removal, or on allegations they were involved. The army has dismissed claims in the past that they were behind the Supreme Court’s push against Sharif.

Additional reporting by Asif Shahzad; Writing by Drazen Jorgic and Kay Johnson; Editing by Andrew Bolton and Stephen Powell


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