Ousted Pak­istan pre­mier passes ba­ton to brother

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

IS­LAM­ABAD, Pak­istan — With his term as Pak­istan’s prime min­is­ter cut short, and with his gov­ern­ing party fac­ing crit­i­cal na­tional elec­tions in less than a year, Nawaz Sharif an­nounced pub­licly Sat­ur­day that he was choos­ing his younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, to be his longterm re­place­ment as prime min­is­ter and as the party’s stan­dard-bearer.

On one level, it was a clear choice. Over the past four years, as chief min­is­ter of Pun­jab prov­ince, Pak­istan’s most cru­cial po­lit­i­cal power base, Shehbaz Sharif, 65, has presided over a high-pro­file cam­paign of in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments and so­cial de­vel­op­ment pro­grams.

“Af­ter los­ing out on the le­gal front, Nawaz Sharif can­not af­ford to also com­pro­mise on the in­tegrity of his party,” said Rana Jawad, the news di­rec­tor of Pak­istan’s most pop­u­lar news chan­nel, Geo News.

Where his older brother has been crit­i­cized in re­cent years for a low-en­ergy style in power, Shehbaz Sharif has nur­tured a nearly op­po­site rep­u­ta­tion. His aides de­scribe him as a worka­holic with a taste for 7 a.m. staff meet­ings.

But the choice is not with­out risk for the Shar­ifs’ party, the Pak­istan Mus­lim League. Shehbaz Sharif has also been dogged by ac­cu­sa­tions of po­lice bru­tal­ity un­der his watch as Pun­jab’s chief min­is­ter. And he has been crit­i­cized for do­ing too lit­tle to curb ex­trem­ist sec­tar­ian groups in the prov­ince.

There are also ques­tions about his health. Over the years, Sharif has un­der­gone mul­ti­ple treat­ments for can­cer. His sup­port­ers in­sist that the hard-nosed style he was known for in early years has soft­ened some­what. And ad­vi­sors say that his med­i­cal chal­lenges over the years have driven his re­cent cam­paign of so­cial de­vel­op­ment.

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