PML-N chooses Shehbaz Sharif as PM candidate for 2018

ANI | Updated: Nov 01, 2017 18:07 IST

London [U.K.] Nov. 1 (ANI): Shehbaz Sharif, the brother of ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has been chosen by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as party's prime ministerial candidate for the 2018 general elections.

According to a Dawn report, the London meeting of the PML-N top leadership has decided to put forward Shehbaz Sharif as prime ministerial candidate after the 2018 elections if party president Nawaz Sharif remains ineligible to run for office.

The meeting, held on Monday, was presided over by Nawaz Sharif and attended by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and federal ministers Ishaq Dar, Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal.

It's coincidental that a survey conducted by a little known US institute Global Strategic Partner in September says that Shehbaz Sharif was the choice of 60 percent of the respondents as the best choice for the prime ministerial job.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan was the choice of 47 percent of total 4,540 respondents from across the country.

Quoting a senior PML-N leader, Dawn reports that the decision to pitch the Punjab chief minister for the office had been taken in view of the fact that disqualification of the elder Sharif under the Supreme Court orders in the Panama Papers case might not be overturned by the vote due after about nine months.

Nawaz Sharif served as the Prime Minister of Pakistan from 2013 until disqualification by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2017. He had previously served as the Prime Minister twice in the 90s (1990-93 and 1997-99) and the Chief Minister of Punjab from 1985 to 1990. He is Pakistan's longest-serving prime minister.

After his disqualification, Sharif had publicly nominated Shehbaz for the PM post but later changed his decision.

The PML-N leader on the condition of anonymity told Dawn that earlier plans of elevating the chief minister to the federal role had to be reverted when the decision led to the emergence of a number of claimants to the office of provincial chief executive.

According to him, at least three members of the Punjab cabinet were among the claimants and appointing anyone of them or any "junior" to the office could have created a rift in the party in its stronghold at a time when it needed unity and harmony the most.

He rejected a perception that there were any two views in the party on the nomination of Shehbaz Sharif for the greater role or that the chief minister lacked the ability to take along all shades of opinion.

The official saw the same claimants behind reports of division in the party on the issue. (ANI)