Pakistan parliament to elect PM after Sharif removal

Ruling PML-N party, which holds parliament majority, nominates disgraced leader’s brother as next prime minister.

Pakistan PM
No prime minister has completed the five-year term in the country's history [AFP]

Pakistan’s parliament will meet on Tuesday to elect a new prime minister after the disqualification of three-time leader Nawaz Sharif.

Mamnoon Hussain, Pakistan’s president, called the special parliamentary session late on Saturday after Sharif put forward Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the interim leader and his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, as the long-term successor.

Shahbaz, currently the chief minister of Punjab province – Pakistan’s most populous region and the Sharifs’ political heartland – will have to resign from his post and run for a by-election to join Parliament before he is elected as prime minister.

Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party has a strong majority in parliament and is expected to succeed in installing Abbasi for the interim 45-day period.

The opposition is expected to name a candidate to challenge Abbasi in the parliament vote, but the former petroleum minister looks set to win.

Sharif’s party holds 188 of 342 seats in parliament’s lower house and, with additional votes from its allies, is expected to obtain 214 votes. To win the top slot, Abbasi needs 172 votes.

READ MORE: Pakistan’s democracy reels from Nawaz Sharif’s removal

The ruling PML-N party has vowed a smooth transfer of power after Sharif’s removal.

The quick handover looks to ease political upheaval sparked by the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to disqualify Sharif for concealing his assets.

Sharif has lashed out against the court’s decision and his opponents who used the Supreme Court to topple him.

But he has vowed his party would continue to focus on economic development, touting a faster-growing economy as proof of his success.

“The wheel of development is moving and may God keep it rolling, and may it never stop,” he told members of PML-N on Saturday night.

Opposition leader Imran Khan, who pushed for Sharif’s investigation, called Shahbaz’s selection “a form of monarchy”. 

“They are family parties,” he said. “They are basically – families run the parties … In monarchy, it’s hereditary, it’s through blood. We are still stuck into it.”

‘Panama papers’

The probe against Sharif began after his children were named in the so-called Panama Papers leak for owning off-shore accounts and properties.

Sharif’s party has resolved to file a review petition in the Supreme Court to reverse the judges’ decision.

The court also ordered criminal investigations for him and his family.

READ MORE: What’s next for Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif?

The three-term prime minister has a history of rocky relations with Pakistan’s powerful military and has been removed from office three times.

Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said: “What the people don’t want is selective accountability.

“Most of the reaction coming out of the country has been positive. The Pakistani people want all the politicians, bureaucrats, judges, generals and everybody across the board to be accountable, so there has been no violent reaction on the streets.”

No civilian government has ever completed its term in Pakistan.

Pakistan has been ruled by military generals for more than half of its 70-year history.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies