Shehbaz Sharif advised to stay put in Punjab

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif is likely to suggest to the PML-N chief and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to reconsider his decision to get him (Shehbaz) elected as the next prime minister of Pakistan and to allow him to continue working as chief minister of Punjab.

After the apex court on July 28 disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif for hiding assets in his nomination papers for 2013 polls, Nawaz had named his younger brother, Shahbaz, as his successor during the PML-N’s parliamentary party meeting.

However, as Shehbaz must first enter parliament by contesting the seat left vacant by Nawaz, the party had decided to elected Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former petroleum minister, as a stop-gap prime minister.

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However, well-placed sources in the party told The Express Tribune that Shehbaz has been advised by senior party leaders from Punjab against taking the ‘risky decision’ of contesting by-election at NA-120 seat, where he is likely to face a tough competition from the PTI candidate.

The leaders believe that an adverse outcome of the by-election scheduled for September 10 could damage the party position in the upcoming 2018 general elections.

“The CM has been advised to remain in his stronghold of Punjab that would suffer greatly if he is elevated to premiership,” said a PML-N leader, while requesting anonymity.

He said Shehbaz had done a great deal of work administratively and politically. “Anyone succeeding him may be able to handle administrative matters with his (Shehbaz’s) oversight; however he won’t be able to handle political dynamics this close to the general elections,” he added.

Another leader said Nawaz Sharif would continue to work as a de facto PM and right now only a dummy prime minister was needed for which Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will fit the bill.

“Shehbaz is told he would waste himself in Islamabad in a post where he will only be taking orders from Nawaz,” he said.

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He said if this followed through, Shehbaz would eventually have to select a dummy CM to handle matters of Punjab from Islamabad.  “What is the need then of having a dummy PM and a dummy CM. It would be a far better option to let Shehbaz stay in Lahore rather than sending him to Islamabad.”

Source said Nawaz Sharif might have nominated Shehbaz in view of his rapport with ‘certain institutions’ However, they said, Shehbaz and Chaudary Nisar were already handling matters with those certain institutions in their own capacities.

They said Shehabz had agreed with these suggestions and shared almost the same opinion. However, the CM won’t be able to take this decision on his own that is why he is expected to talk to Nawaz Sharif in the coming days, they said, adding that ultimately it would be Nawaz Sharif’s decision.


Source: Express Tribune

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