Who will succeed Nawaz Sharif?
Islamabad: After the disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, no clear picture has emerged so far as to who would succeed him from the family-run Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), with a prominent analyst on Friday predicting a “very uncertain” situation for the ruling party.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday disqualified the three- time prime minister for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal, forcing Sharif to resign. Zahid Hussain, an author and senior journalist, said that one cannot be sure who would be the successor to Sharif. “One cannot be sure about it. It’s a very uncertain situation,” he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
To a question on whether is there anyone that the PML-N can produce as a leader, Hussain said, “I don’t think so because the party revolves around one person or one family. So it will be very difficult for the party to actually have a person who could keep the party united and go into the next elections,” he added. A report in The Nation newspaper said the potential candidates for the post are rumoured to be interior minister Chaudhary Nisar, federal minister of defence and minister of water and power Khawaja Asif, minister of petroleum and natural resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, speaker in the National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and younger brother of Nawaz Sharif and Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Asif was the strongest contender to succeed Sharif, as per reports before the Panama verdict but after an important press conference of Nisar and the Iqama scandal, his chances have been reduced, the paper said. Asif is also on a visit to the US. The option of Shahbaz is rather lengthy as he will have to be elected as member of National Assembly (MNA) and resign as chief minister of Punjab and member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) seat, the report noted.
Sadiq is another strong candidate for the prime minister’s post and likely to be selected as premier. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is another major candidate for prime minister’s seat. Some political circles are taking the name of minister for commerce Khurram Dastgir as another potential candidate, the paper said. Sharif, who has been disqualified from his National Assembly seat in Lahore, has tried to transform the party and make it more populist but it still remains the party of the establishment, Hussain, who is a well-known commentator, said.
“We have seen in the past that whenever under pressure, the party disintegrated and I think it could happen again,” he warned in the Dawn newspaper piece. The Supreme Court has also ordered the National Accountability Bureau to file a corruption case against Sharif, his children—Hussain, Hassan and Maryam.