Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif, who is currently the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, is all set to become the next Prime Minister as the ruling Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was voted out after losing the no-confidence motion.
The voting on the no-confidence motion resulted in Imran Khan-led PTI losing with 174 votes in favour of the no-confidence motion.
Sharif’s candidature as the Opposition’s choice for the Prime Ministership was revealed by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during a joint press conference of the opposition parties on March 30. He’s likely to be elected as the new PM in the same National Assembly session which has seen Imran Khan ousted from power after the country’s Supreme Court turned down the rejection of the Opposition’s no-confidence motion by the Deputy Speaker of the House.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court in a historic judgement on Thursday had called for the convening of the session of the National Assembly “not later than 10:30 AM on Saturday” after setting aside the April 3 ruling of the Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri against the no-confidence motion on “Constitutional grounds”.
Declaring the ruling of the Deputy Speaker “to be contrary to the Constitution and the law and of no legal effect”, the Court set aside all the subsequent steps taken, including the dissolution of the National Assembly, while also restoring Prime Minister Imran Khan and all the Federal Ministers to their respective positions as of April 3.
The court also fixed the Saturday session with the conditions that the session cannot be prorogued unless the motion is voted upon, and in case Imran Khan loses the no-trust vote, the next PM has to be elected in the same session.
Shehbaz Sharif, born in an industrialist family in Lahore in 1950, is the younger brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has served for three terms. Shehbaz Sharif has been the Chief Minister of the crucial Punjab province of Pakistan for three terms.
Having made a reputation as an administrator, Shehbaz Sharif had staked claims for the Prime Minister’s chair in August 2018. But the decision of the Bilawal Bhutto-led PPP to abstain from the PM vote in the last hour paved the way for the comfortable election of PTI’s Imran Khan as the Prime Minister. Shehbaz Sharif had then settled as the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly.
A graduate of the Government College University, Lahore, Shehbaz Sharif initially joined his family’s steel business, while also becoming the president of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industries in 1985.
The political fortunes of the Sharif family rose considerably in the 1980s under the dictatorship of Zia-ul-Haq, with elder brother Nawaz Sharif inducted into the Punjab Provincial Cabinet as Finance Minister in 1983.
Shehbaz Sharif entered the Punjab Provincial Assembly in 1988 while he was elected to the National Assembly in 1990. In 1993, he again stood for a Provincial Assembly seat and became leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly.
He became the Chief Minister of Punjab for the first time after the 1997 elections. However, his term was cut short by Pervez Musharraf’s military coup of 1999 after which he became the CM of the Punjab province again in 2008, returning from almost a decade long political exile.
Shehbaz Sharif was elected unopposed as the President of PML-N in February 2018 following his elder brother, and then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification from holding key positions after being implicated in the ‘Panama Papers’.
Like his elder brother, Shehbaz Sharif also faces serious corruption charges. In December 2019, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) froze 23 properties belonging to Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Hamza, accusing them of money laundering.
He was arrested by the NAB in the same case in September 2020 and incarcerated pending trial. In April 2021, the Lahore High Court released him on bail in the money laundering case.
The factors favouring the younger Sharif, however, include the Opposition unity against Imran Khan’s ‘vindictive politics’ as well as the tactic support of the military establishment, which seems to be keen to unseat Imran Khan from power, especially after his recent vitriolic comments against the US, including raising the foreign conspiracy charge.
With the Sharif family set to return to power in Pakistan amid the fast-deteriorating economic situations and political instability, it is to be seen if Shehbaz Sharif infuses fresh energy into the system, or the much-tainted family continues to resort to its old ways. (ANI)