Who will be Pakistan’s next prime minister?

A look at candidates from the governing PML-N who could possibly fill the vacancy left by Nawaz Sharif’s resignation.

OUTSIDE IMAGE: Who will be Pakistan''s next prime minister?

With the resignation of Pakistan’s prime minister after the country’s Supreme Court disqualifed him for concealing assets and referred him, along with his finance minister, Ishaq Dar, and son-in-law Captain Safdar, to the corruption court for trial, we take a look at the candidates likely to replace Nawaz Sharif. 

Shahbaz Sharif

Nawaz’s younger brother and closest political ally. Currently serves as chief minister of Punjab – the country’s most populous province and Nawaz’s political heartland. In order to become prime minister, he would have to run in a by-election for Nawaz’s now vacant seat in parliament to qualify as a candidate. It is unclear when that by-election will take place. 

Maryam Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif’s daughter and assumed political heir, Maryam holds no public office. She would have to run for election for her father’s now vacant parliamentary seat in a by-election. Her candidacy, however, would be fraught with risk given that the Supreme Court has referred her to a corruption court for trial. 

Ahsan Iqbal

Iqbal has been at the forefront of implementing the $56bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as the country’s planning minister. He has been part of the PML-N since 1988 and was one of the people who kept the party alive in the years the Sharif brothers lived in exile following a coup by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999.
Khawaja Muhammad Asif

Having served as the minister for defence as well as water and power, under Nawaz Sharif, Asif is a close ally and long-time party member. He has been a part of Nawaz Sharif’s inner circle for years, and has been vocal in his criticism of the political opposition.
Sardar Ayaz Sadiq

Sadiq is the speaker of the lower house of parliament and is considered to be close to the Sharif family. He would have to resign from his post as speaker to become prime minister. However, such a step would necessitate the nomination of a new speaker before his possible election.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan

A founding member of the party, Khan has been one of Sharif’s political confidantes for years. In the present government, he has served as interior minister, a key post in a country conducting a military offensive against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and other armed groups. Khan, however, has expressed his displeasure with how the current political crisis has been handled, and recently said he was on the verge of quitting the cabinet.

Other candidates
A number of other less well-known PML-N candidates could be nominated for the position as an interim pick until the next elections, allowing the Sharif brothers to shore up the party’s base in Punjab in the run-up to elections due in mid-2018. 

Who will be Pakistan's next prime minister? [Al Jazeera]
Who will be Pakistan’s next prime minister? [Al Jazeera]
Source: Al Jazeera