Formal decision expected on Tuesday
Shehbaz to be at helm after intra-party polls
LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has decided to pass the baton of the party presidency to his brother Shehbaz Shehbaz, chief minister of Punjab, after an informal meeting on Sunday. Shehbaz was apprised of the decision during his visit to the residence of Nawaz Sharif in Jati Umra.
During the meeting, the ex-premier apprised the CM of being made the acting president of the ruling PML-N. However, the official decision in this regard will be announced at a meeting of the central executive committee on February 27, sources privy to the development disclosed.
Even though the decision has already been made, the PML-N will hold intra-party elections to formally elect the younger Sharif as the president in line with the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) directives.
The slot of the president fell vacant after the Supreme Court’s disqualified Nawaz from the holding the presidency in its verdict pertaining to the Elections Act Bill that had enabled the former premier to come back at the helm despite being disqualified in the Panama Papers case.
Following the decision of the apex court, the ECP had ordered the PML-N to conduct the intra-party polls in a period of seven days.
After the PML-N leadership’s huddle at the Punjab House on February 22, it was being speculated that Shehbaz will succeed Nawaz; however, an official decision was still to come.
Just a day after the disqualification order by the SC, the former PML-N chief had chaired a meeting of the party’s top brass to ponder over the names for the new party chief.
During the meeting, the PML-N leaders had unanimously agreed that Shehbaz should lead the party as he was a “non-controversial and influential person”.
The leadership had unanimously agreed that Shehbaz’s performance has been excellent.
The meeting had also contended that Shehbaz’s appointment as the PML-N president would help improve the strained ties between state institutions, which had gone sour following the elder Sharif’s hostile stance towards the state institutions.
There were also reports of Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and wife Kulsoom Nawaz for being in the presidential race; however, their names were not considered, probably to avoid further rifts within the party.
The decision comes at a time when the Punjab chief minister is facing an onslaught by the opposition for his reported corrupt practices, if not, then for patronising the corrupt officials in the bureaucracy, particularly former Lahore chief Ahad Cheema who is in the anti-graft body’s custody on an 11-day remand.
Earlier the day, the CM said that transparent projects of PML-N were self-explanatory and were acknowledged internationally as he rejected the opposition’s rumours. He further said that good governance, merit, and transparency were the foundations of their politics.
He said that PML-N had set historical records of public service and had worked hard to take the country forward and would keep striving hard to go ahead on the road of progress.