Shahbaz Sharif elected president of Pakistan’s ruling party
ISLAMABAD: The younger brother of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been elected as the new president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party.
The PML-N General Council on Tuesday elected Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, who contested for the slot unopposed.
He was nominated as the acting president of PML-N in February by Nawaz Sharif who was barred from serving as PML-N's president following a Supreme Court verdict.
“It is an honor for me to be elected as president of the party,” Shahbaz said. “I am thankful to Mian Nawaz Sharif and all the party workers for trusting me and providing me with this opportunity.”
Shahbaz said that he has been serving Pakistan for the past 30 years under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif and would continue his journey with the support of the people. “We will win the upcoming general election despite all conspiracies,” he said.
“Nawaz Sharif is still our leader and will remain so in the future as well,” he said.
The PML-N president said that Nawaz Sharif was denied justice in the recent cases against him, but expressed the hope that he would “get justice one day.”
Addressing the General Council meeting, Nawaz Sharif said that his party had elected Shahbaz Sharif as new president of the party under compulsion.
“We have to elect Shahbaz Sharif as the party president for this situation was created for us,” he said, listing numerous development projects that were initiated across Pakistan when he was the prime minister.
“I will not back down from the mission that I have chosen. It is part of my belief now,” he said.
Nawaz Sharif said that he would keep struggling to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in the country despite the challenges.
Sharif said that “respect the sanctity of the vote” would be the only manifesto of his party in the general elections. “It means respect the mandate of the people. And I'll keep struggling for it.”
The former prime minister said that he was fighting for the betterment of the country and the people and that was why he was being punished through fabricated cases of corruption. He urged party workers to convert the general election into a referendum.
The PML-N has been facing a leadership crisis since the apex court, in its July 28 Panama Papers judgment, ordered Nawaz's disqualification from public office and he was removed as party head.
Talking to Arab News, political analyst Tahir Malik said that Nawaz Sharif had been trying to build a narrative for the general elections by criticizing judiciary and other state institutions.
“Shahbaz Sharif should try to come out of the shadow of his elder brother if he wants to steer the party out of crisis,” he said.
“The PML-N won't be able to win the general election if its leaders continue attacking the state institutions in their speeches,” he said. “Pakistanis won't like politicians who target the armed forces and judiciary for political purposes,” Malik said.
Pakistani Chief Minister of Punjab Province Shahbaz Sharif, left, shakes hands with his brother and ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after being elected president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party at the General Council in Islamabad on Tuesday. (AFP)