PML(N) elects Nawaz Sharif 'leader for life'

Shehbaz Sharif elected as acting president of PML-N

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) central working committee on Monday named Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif as an interim president of the party.

For the second time, Nawaz Sharif has become the PML-N Quaid (supreme leader), but he is not the "party head" as defined by the Constitution on which the top court placed its reliance while ousting him as its president.

The PPP leader also said that it was easier to talk to PML-N former chief Nawaz Sharif than to Shehbaz.

"I propose the name of Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif", Nawaz announced during a meeting in Lahore to huge applause.

A PML-N insider said that Nawaz Sharif had finalised his younger brother's nomination for the slot of party president after consulting his wife Kulsoom, daughter Maryam Nawaz, former finance minister Ishaq Dar, former information minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid and a few others.

Shahbaz Sharif has been elected for the interim period of 45 days until the general council meeting takes place next month to elect the full-time president. Mr Sharif was removed from the post of PML-N president by the apex court on Feb 22. PML (N) is still expected to emerge as the biggest party in Senate. Shahbaz, 66, chief minister of the vast province of Punjab, has built a reputation as a competent administrator who gets things done, especially infrastructure mega projects that are the cornerstone of the party's electoral appeal.

Nawaz has already nominated Shahbaz for the prime minister candidate if PML-N wins this year's general elections.

Nawaz Sharif had earlier been declared unfit to hold public office in the landmark Panama Papers judgement, in which a five-member bench of the Supreme Court had unanimously ruled that the former prime minister had not been honest and truthful in discharging his obligations as a lawmaker.

Senior PML-N leaders are tight-lipped about the next president of the Punjab branch, but one of them said privately that Shahbaz Sharif, as the Punjab president, used to do a balancing act between different powerful groups in the party by keeping all of them in good humour.

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