Shah­baz Sharif named pres­i­dent of PML-N, brother Nawaz be­comes ‘Leader for Life’

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL - RAJA RIAZ

LA­HORE: The Cen­tral Work­ing Com­mit­tee (CWC) of Pak­istan’s rul­ing party, Pak­istan Mus­lim League-Nawaz (PML-N), on Tues­day elected Pun­jab Chief Min­is­ter Shah­baz Sharif as the party’s act­ing pres­i­dent. His brother, Nawaz Sharif, was de­clared “Leader for Life” through a new res­o­lu­tion.

Nawaz, who was re­moved from his po­si­tion as prime min­is­ter in July over al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion, pro­posed his brother for the of­fice of party pres­i­dent to a thun­der­ous round of ap­plause from CWC mem­bers.

The party’s chair­man, Raja Za­farul Haq, then nom­i­nated the for­mer prime min­is­ter as “Leader for Life,” say­ing, “Nawaz Sharif was, is and will re­main the leader of PML-N.”

Prime Min­is­ter Shahid Khan Ab­basi en­dorsed that sen­ti­ment.

“These are peo­ples’ de­ci­sions and the courts have no right to make such choices,” he said. “This is what our party wants.”

Pak­istan’s Supreme Court ruled that a per­son dis­qual­i­fied from hold­ing pub­lic of­fice, as Nawaz was, could not lead a po­lit­i­cal party, hence Shabaz’s elec­tion as “act­ing pres­i­dent.”

Nawaz re­signed as party pres­i­dent af­ter his dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion, but re­gained the po­si­tion in Oc­to­ber af­ter the leg­is­la­ture ap­proved the Elec­toral Re­forms Bill, 2017. Sec­tion 203 of that bill states that any cit­i­zen, ex­cept for civil ser­vants, can form a po­lit­i­cal party and be­come its of­fice bearer.

That law was then chal­lenged in the Supreme Court, which de­clared it null and void, and Nawaz had to quit his po­si­tion once again.

Ad­dress­ing the 109-mem­ber CWC, Nawaz strongly crit­i­cized the ju­di­ciary and re­it­er­ated his reser­va­tions about its re­cent de­ci­sions.

Re­fer­ring to the judges who took oath un­der the Pro­vi­sional Con­sti­tu­tional Or­der (PCO) is­sued by the for­mer mil­i­tary ruler, Pervez Mushar­raf, he said: “It is the great­est crime when you (for­sake) your coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion and take an oath of al­le­giance to a mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor. What is a big­ger crime than that?”

Shah­baz Sharif, ac­cept­ing his nom­i­na­tion, said that he would fol­low the party line and his brother’s work.

“I will move for­ward un­der the lead­er­ship of Mian Nawaz Sharif,” he said.

Po­lit­i­cal pun­dits see Shah­baz’s pres­ence in the of­fice as a good omen for the party.

“He is non-con­fronta­tional and will be ac­cept­able to the es­tab­lish­ment,” said Pak­istan To­day Edi­tor Arif Nizami.

Vet­eran jour­nal­ist Mu­jeeb-urRehman Shami agreed. “Shah­baz Sharif is dif­fer­ent from his brother. He mostly fo­cuses on de­vel­op­ment work and is likely to avoid con­fronta­tion,” he said.

“This nom­i­na­tion was made with the next gen­eral elec­tions in mind,” said Sal­man Ghani, edi­tor, cur­rent af­fairs at Dunya TV. “Shah­baz Sharif en­joys a good rep­u­ta­tion and peo­ple like him since he car­ried out de­vel­op­ment work. He is also the most ac­cept­able per­son in the party, and his lead­er­ship can en­sure PML-N’s vic­tory in the com­ing elec­tions.”

The CWC will present its de­ci­sion at the PML-N’s gen­eral coun­cil meet­ing on March 6 in Is­lam­abad. The coun­cil is likely to en­dorse the de­ci­sion, con­firm­ing Shah­baz as the new party chief.

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