Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will be appointed as the president of the ruling PML-N next month, according to sources close to the party.
A meeting was held between Nawaz Sharif — who was disqualified after the Panamagate verdict last month from continuing as prime minister of Pakistan and consequently, the head of PML-N — and Shahbaz on Monday at the former’s Model Town residence in Lahore.
During the meeting, Nawaz took Shahbaz into confidence regarding his appointment as PML-N president, said party insiders. An announcement to this effect is expected on September 7.
Last week, Senator Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir was appointed as the party’s interim president following an order from the Election Commission of Pakistan to PML-N to elect a new leader by Aug 25.
The ECP notification had stated that election laws do not allow a person who does not qualify to become a member of the parliament to serve as an office-bearer of a political entity.
Had the party failed to comply with ECP’s order, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the former prime minister’s wife, would not have been able to contest the upcoming NA-120 by polls.
Nasir was appointed to hold the post until the party decided upon a permanent replacement.
PML-N leaders have suggested the appointment of Shahbaz as party leader in recent days.
Shahbaz had previously also been touted as the next prime minister, while incumbent PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was to serve as a stopgap arrangement till the Punjab CM could be elected to the National Assembly. The plan changed, however, after some party leaders opposed the “unnecessary” disturbance in the existing political setting.
During Monday’s meeting, the Sharif brothers also discussed the recently held press conference of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
In Sunday’s press conference, Nisar admitted to “difference in opinion” with the PML-N leadership and his former cabinet colleagues but — in a show of loyalty to his party — refused to elaborate, saying it would not be appropriate to do so given the crisis facing the party.