Shehbaz Sharif nominated for Pakistan PM post 

Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to protest.

Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to protest.

Pakistan’s Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday nominated himself for the post of Prime Minister after the ouster of Imran Khan, whose party threatened to withdraw its lawmakers from Parliament if the former Punjab Chief Minister was allowed to contest the election for the top post on Monday.

The process of electing the new leader of the House began on Sunday after Mr. Khan was removed from office through a no–confidence vote, becoming the first Premier in the country’s history to be sent home after losing the trust of the House.

The joint Opposition — a rainbow of socialist, liberal and radically religious parties — has nominated Mr. Sharif, 70, for the post while ex-Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was named by Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek–e–Insaf (PTI) as its candidate.

The nomination papers of Mr. Sharif, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president, have been accepted by the National Assembly Secretariat after objections raised by the PTI were rejected.

Mr. Qureshi’s nomination papers were also accepted.

Senior PTI leader Babar Awan challenged Mr. Sharif’s candidature, saying that the PML-N chief faced several court cases. The PTI has decided to withdraw its lawmakers from the National Assembly and launch a movement against the new upcoming government, which is likely to be headed by Mr. Sharif, who has served as the Chief Minister of Punjab three times.

“The core committee has recommended to Imran Khan that we should resign from the Assemblies. We are starting from the National Assembly. If our objections against Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination papers are not [entertained], we will submit the resignations tomorrow [Monday],” PTI leader and former Minister Fawad Chaudhry told reporters after the party held a core committee meeting at the residence of Mr. Khan.

Mr. Khan’s successor will be elected in the National Assembly on Monday and a special session has been summoned. In the House of 342, the winner would need 172 votes to become the new Prime Minister.

On Sunday, the Opposition had mustered 174 votes to oust Mr. Khan. Mr. Sharif is expected to be elected the new Leader of the House.

In 2019, the National Accountability Bureau had arrested Mr. Shehbaz and his son, Hamza Sharif, accusing them of money laundering.

It will be a real challenge for Mr. Sharif to shepherd the motley herd that also includes four independent candidates and allow Parliament to complete its five-year term that will end in August next year.

‘No grudges’

Before filing nomination, Mr. Sharif offered “special thanks” to those who stood up “for the Constitution!” “I don’t want to go back to the bitterness of the past. We want to forget them and move forward. We will not take revenge or do injustice; we will not send people to jail for no reason, law and justice will take its course,” he told the National Assembly early Sunday.

Ex-President and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chair Asif Ali Zardari had proposed Mr. Sharif’s name for Prime Minister in a joint Opposition meeting.

Mr. Zardari’s son Bilawal Bhutto is likely to be appointed as the new Foreign Minister.

According to media reports, in the run-up to the no-trust vote, Mr. Khan made a botched attempt to replace Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa to bring someone more pliant and sympathetic to his idea of “foreign conspiracy” and cling on to power.

Uninvited guests

BBC Urdu reported that a helicopter carrying “two uninvited guests” landed in the PM House on Saturday night and they met alone Mr. Khan for 45 minutes.

No details were provided about the meeting but it was not held in a cordial atmosphere, it said.

“The Prime Minister had issued orders an hour ago to remove one of the high officials who came to meet him. So the uninvited arrival of these guests was unexpected for the Prime Minister. Mr. Khan was waiting for a helicopter but those arriving on the helicopter were against his estimate and expectations,” it said.

The BBC did not identify the “uninvited guest” but the choice of words, tenor and tone of the report unmistakably show that they could be Gen. Bajwa and ISI chief Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed Anjum.

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