Party of Pakistan’s ousted premier picks loyalist for interim role
islamabad, pakistan — 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 a meeting of his Pakistan Muslim League party in Islamabad, the capital. His request was endorsed by lawmakers from his party.
Because Sharif ’s party enjoys a comfortable majority in Parliament, Abbasi, a longtime loyalist, is expected to easily win the required vote when the National Assembly meets within the next week.
In a televised speech Saturday, Sharif said that his younger brother, Shahbaz, who is chief minister in Punjab province, would seek election to the National Assembly in the seat that 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.
Abbasi, 58, has been elected six times to Pakistan’s powerful lower house and has served in several cabinet positions.
He was petroleum minister in Sharif’s cabinet until Friday’s Supreme Court decision disqualified Sharif and forced the selection of a replacement.
Abbasi is a stalwart in Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party. When Sharif was overthrown in a bloodless coup in 1999 by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Abbasi was charged with aiding Sharif, who had sought to avoid the coup by refusing to allow Musharraf ’s plane to land in Pakistan. Abbasi was thrown in jail but acquitted of any wrongdoing two years later.
Abbasi is expected to be sworn in as prime minister after the parliamentary vote. On Saturday, he vowed to “continue the mission” of Sharif, adding that he was grateful to Sharif for naming him premier, even though it will only be for a brief period.
He is expected to serve as prime minister for just 45 days until Shahbaz Sharif contends for and wins the upcoming byelection. Shahbaz Sharif is then expected to become prime minister until general elections are held next June.