Pakistan’s lawmakers will elect a new prime minister on Tuesday to replace ousted leader Nawaz Sharif, with ruling party stalwart Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expected to become interim leader until Sharif’s own brother is eligible.
The confirmation from parliament came after Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain convened a special session following Sharif’s decision to put forward his ally Abbasi as interim leader and named his brother Shahbaz, 65, as long-term successor.
Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party holds a majority with 188 seats in the 342-member parliament, so it should be able to swiftly install its choice, barring any defections from its own ranks.
A quick handover could ease political upheaval sparked by the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to disqualify Sharif for not declaring a source of income. The court also ordered a criminal investigation into him and his family.
Abbasi on Sunday vowed to continue Sharif’s work.
“I hope that God will help me in furthering Nawaz Sharif’s policies,” Abbasi told reporters in Islamabad, adding to speculation that Sharif will continue to run the show behind the scenes.
The turmoil and the premature end to Sharif’s third stint in power has also raised questions about Pakistan’s democracy as no prime minister has completed a full term in power since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
“We wanted to make sure there is a smooth transfer of power, and no constitutional crisis,” said Miftah Ismail, a senior PML-N official and Sharif ally.
Sharif has lashed out against the court’s decision and opponents who used the Supreme Court to topple him but vowed his party would continue to focus on economic development, touting a faster-growing economy as proof of his success.
“Wheel of development is moving and may God keep it rolling and may it never stop,” he told members of PML-N on Saturday night.
On Sharif’s arrival, supporters chanted, “The Lion is here.” (GlobalTimes)