ISLAMABAD – The ruling Pakistan Muslim League party on Saturday nominated Shahbaz Sharif as the successor to his brother Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister removed by the Supreme Court on corruption charges.
Sharif proposed and announced his younger brother Shahbaz as his successor after consultations with the party’s lawmakers who were meeting for the first time since his disqualification on Friday.
Shahbaz, 65, currently the chief minister of Punjab province, can only become premier after he is elected as a member of the National Assembly.
He will contest elections from the seat vacated by his brother. The Supreme Court said in its decision that Sharif would never be allowed to become a member of parliament.
The party also announced that former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who had also served as chairman of national carrier Pakistan International Airlines, would serve as interim prime minister.
Sharif, speaking for the first time since his ouster, said: “I still do not understand the grounds for my dismissal.”
The allegations against him and his family are linked to one of two of his stints in power in the 1990s and were revealed in last year’s Panama Papers leak.
His opponents accused him of laundering money from Pakistan and stashing it in offshore accounts. The money was allegedly used to later buy properties in London.
Sharif denied the allegations and said the flats in Britain were transferred to his sons as a settlement for an investment he had in Qatar with the Gulf royal family.
On Saturday he said that “the way forward is clear: There should be supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law.”
The Pakistan Muslim League has a majority in parliament and the ousted premier is likely to rule through a front man.
President Mamnoon Hussain will now call a meeting of the National Assembly to formally pick the interim prime minister.
The process for the election of the new prime minister is expected to start from Monday.