Parliament to elect prime minister after Sharif debacle

PML-N, which holds comfortable parliament majority, almost certain to remain in power with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at helm.

Nawaz Sharif win 2013
Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif stepped down as PM after the Supreme Court disqualified him [The Associated Press]

Pakistani politicians are set to elect an interim prime minister following the dismissal of Nawaz Sharif.

The outgoing prime minister lost his post after Supreme Court judges disqualified him over corruption allegations, for not declaring a source of income.

Sharif has nominated Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, his staunch Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) ally, as interim leader until his brother, Shahbaz, becomes eligible to take over – a development expected within two months.

Parliament will convene on Tuesday afternoon for the vote.

PML-N politician Raja Zafarul Haq said the ruling party’s choice for Sharif’s successor, Abbasi, is certain to be elected as head of government.

READ MORE: Pakistan parliament to elect PM after Sharif removal

Abbasi will be running against Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, who is the candidate of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party; Khursheed Shah, the Pakistan People’s Party candidate, and two other minor party candidates.

None of the opposition candidates stand a chance of winning, given the PML-N’s parliament majority.

“Our party will succeed with our majority, God willing,” Abassi told reporters inside parliament after filing the official nomination papers on Monday.

Western-educated Abbasi, who started his career as a businessman, has spent most of his political life by Sharif’s side.

He was jailed after Pakistan’s powerful military staged a coup in 1999 to topple a previous Sharif government.

READ MORE: Who will be Pakistan\’s next prime minister?

Sharif’s brother Shahbaz, now chief minister of the vast eastern province of Punjab home to more than half of Pakistan’s 190 million people, will have to resign and fight a parliamentary by-election before he can take over as prime minister.

Sharif’s PML-N party won elections in 2013 and holds a majority of 188 seats in the 342-member parliament, so it should be able to swiftly install its choice of prime minister, barring defections from its own ranks.

Friday’s landmark ruling followed months of hearings sparked by the leak of the Panama Papers, which showed that three of Sharif’s children were connected to three offshore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies