Pak­istan names Ab­basi in­terim prime min­is­ter


IS­LAM­ABAD — Pak­istan’s rul­ing party named se­nior law­maker Shahid Khaqan Ab­basi as suc­ces­sor to the de­posed prime min­is­ter on Satur­day, a day af­ter the Supreme Court re­moved Nawaz Sharif from of­fice for con­ceal­ing as­sets.

Sharif pro­posed Ab­basi as in­terim prime min­is­ter at the meet­ing of Pak­istan Mus­lim League party in Is­lam­abad. His re­quest was en­dorsed by law­mak­ers from his party.

Be­cause Sharif’s party en­joys a com­fort­able ma­jor­ity in the par­lia­ment, his long­time loy­al­ist Ab­basi is ex­pected to eas­ily win the re­quired vote when Na­tional As­sem­bly meets next week.

In a tele­vised speech Satur­day, Sharif said that his younger brother, Shah­baz, who cur­rently is chief min­is­ter in Pun­jab prov­ince, would con­test elec­tion to the Na­tional As­sem­bly, in the seat which fell va­cant with his re­moval.

In an emo­tional ap­peal, Sharif sought sup­port for Shah­baz as a fu­ture full-time pre­mier. Sharif said he tried his best to put Pak­istan on the path of progress but was un­fairly pe­nal­ized with his dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

“I was not ex­pect­ing what hap­pened to me yes­ter­day,” he said.

Sharif said he was re­moved by the Supreme Court on “base­less al­le­ga­tions.”

He said the op­po­si­tion had cam­paigned against him in re­cent years, ac­cus­ing him and his fam­ily of in­dulging in al­leged cor­rup­tion. “My hands are clean and none of my fam­ily mem­bers mis­used govern­ment funds,” he said.

It was his first pub­lic re­sponse to Fri­day’s court rul­ing.

Sharif said he felt sad­dened by his re­moval as he be­lieved he had worked sin­cerely for the na­tion like “a sol­dier.” He said his­tory would now de­cide whether the court’s de­ci­sion was good for Pak­istan.

Sharif de­fended his record, say­ing he al­ways paid his taxes.

Sharif’s daugh­ter Maryam Nawaz in a tweet said her fa­ther would “re­turn with greater force,” and asked her party to “stay strong”

Also Satur­day, Ab­basi vowed to “con­tinue the mis­sion” of Sharif. He said he was grate­ful to Sharif for nam­ing him pre­mier, even though it will only be for a brief pe­riod.

Satur­day’s de­vel­op­ments came amid a se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal cri­sis that gripped Pak­istan be­cause of Sharif’s re­moval, with law­mak­ers and le­gal ex­perts won­der­ing who was run­ning the govern­ment.

Ear­lier, Raja Za­farul Haq, a se­nior leader from Sharif’s party, said Pak­istan would con­tinue with­out a prime min­is­ter un­til the Na­tional As­sem­bly elects a new one. “We are with­out a prime min­is­ter even now,” he told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Haq said that al­though the court in Fri­day’s rul­ing asked fig­ure­head Pres­i­dent Mam­noon Hus­sain to “en­sure con­tin­u­a­tion of the demo­cratic process,” the real­ity was that the coun­try was still fac­ing a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis.

He said there was no pro­vi­sion in the con­sti­tu­tion about the ap­point­ment of an act­ing prime min­is­ter. He said Sharif might have stayed in power un­til the ap­point­ment of a new prime min­is­ter if judges had not sacked him ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately.

Sharif re­signed Fri­day, say­ing he had reser­va­tions about the court rul­ing.

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