Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination as Pakistan PM ignites speculation if Nawaz’s political career is over

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Shehbaz Sharif

Shehbaz Sharif (File image)

Lahore: The surprise nomination of Shehbaz Sharif as Pakistan's next prime minister is being seen here as a likely end of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif's political career after he failed to secure the coveted post for a record fourth time.


Shehbaz Sharif, 72, is expected to become prime minister after a post-poll alliance of leading political parties led by the two brothers struck a deal with other parties to form a coalition government after last week's elections resulted in a hung Parliament.

If everything goes as planned, the six-party coalition government is likely to take the reins early next month in the coup-prone country.

None of the three major parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the Pakistan People's Party, or the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf have won the necessary seats in the February 8 general elections to secure a majority in the National Assembly and, therefore, will be unable to form a government on their own.


Shehbaz Sharif has prevailed over 74-year-old Nawaz Sharif in the race to grab the coveted post apparently with the blessings of the powerful military establishment, sources said.

Pakistani media has been reporting that the powerful stakeholders are more comfortable working with Shehbaz than Nawaz though they facilitated his return from London in October last year, ending a four-year self-imposed exile.

However, Nawaz Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz was quick to dismiss speculation about her father's political career.


"Nawaz Sharif wanted to become PM for a fourth time but after the split mandate, he withdrew from the top slot," Maryam, the frontrunner for the post of Punjab chief minister, posted on X on Wednesday.


Rejecting reports that her father's political career is over, the 50-year-old, considered to be the political heir of Nawaz Sharif, said: "My father's political career is not over yet. There is also no truth in the inference that Nawaz has decided to quit politics. He will supervise the federal and Punjab governments and play his due role." She said when Nawaz Sharif was in power on the three previous occasions, he had the majority in the National Assembly, but now the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) did not get a simple majority.

"Those who know Nawaz are also aware that he is not interested in leading a coalition government," Maryam, also senior vice president of the PML-N, said.

“Shehbaz and I are his soldiers, bound to follow his command. We will work under his leadership and supervision,” Maryam added.


Differences within the PML-N ranks have also come to the fore following the announcement of Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister hopeful as some senior leaders insisted that Nawaz Sharif should have become the premier of the coalition government.

For years, the PML-N and its leaders have been shouting slogans of “Wazeer-e-Azam, Nawaz Sharif” – PM [would be] Nawaz Sharif. Even, when Shehbaz Sharif was the prime minister and during the election campaign, the party projected Nawaz Sharif as the next prime minister if PML-N came to power.

However, it seems, the split mandate and the last-minute adjustments left the elder Sharif with no other option but to nominate his younger brother and daughter and assume a new role for himself: the person who nominates people in key positions, The Express Tribune newspaper commented.


"We are utterly disappointed that Nawaz Sharif is not becoming PM," PML-N Senator Asif Karmani said. He said during the whole campaign, the people and the party workers were told that Nawaz Sharif would be the party’s prime ministerial candidate. "But the last-minute change disappointed the party workers," he said.

"It seems jailed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder and former prime minister Imran Khan has ended Nawaz’s political career by forcing him to withdraw himself for the coveted post seeing the split mandate," another party leader said.

On Wednesday, social media was abuzz if Nawaz Sharif's political career was over. There were more than 91,000 tweets seemingly by PML-N supporters under the hashtag “Pakistan Ko Nawaz Dou (Give Pakistan Nawaz)” showing that the Nawaz group in the PML-N is not happy over Shehbaz's surprise nomination on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Maryam is set to become the first woman chief minister of Punjab, a crucial province of over 120 million people.

The PTI has alleged that Maryam would become the Chief Minister on its "stolen mandate" thus having no credibility of her selection.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan’s tally, the total number of general seats won by these six parties comes to 152, which shows they can easily achieve the minimum required number of 169 to form the government at the Centre after the addition of 60 women and 10 minority seats in their tally.

Pakistan recorded 47.6 per cent voter turnout in the February 8 election, which was lower than the previous one in 2018 when 52.1 per cent of voters cast the ballot.