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Top Story

February 23, 2018

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Shahbaz favourite to lead N-League

ISLAMABAD: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will be the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) president, as the ousted president Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has completed initial consultations on the appointment of a new party head.

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Well-placed sources in the PML-N told The News late Thursday evening that Shahbaz Sharif emerged as the consensus choice for the slot. During the meeting held at the Punjab House, Nawaz Sharif held extensive consultations with the party’s senior leaders and workers about the developments, including the replacement of the party president, Senate polls and campaign for 2018 election.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Maryam Nawaz, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Mussadiq Malik, Daniyal Aziz, Tehmina Daultana, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Abid Sher Ali and Dr Asif Kirmani attended the meeting.

Annoyed PML-N leader and former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was neither invited by the party leadership nor did he come on his own to attend the meeting. The sources said majority of the party leaders and workers supported Begum Kalsoom Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz for the party president but Nawaz threw his weight behind his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

Nawaz said Shahbaz was the only leader who kept the party united by dint of his exceptional qualities. The party workers raised full-throated slogans in support of Nawaz and Maryam as they reached the Punjab House.

In a brief address to the party workers from the roof of the Punjab House, Nawaz said he will fight all conspiracies against him tooth and nail and strengthen parliament with the support of the masses.

The sources revealed that Nawaz Sharif will continue to call the shots, as he will be declared the party Quaid for life. Talking to The News outside the Election Commission office, Senator Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq, who is also the party chairman and Leader of the House in the Senate, said that formal approval for election of Shahbaz Sharif will be made in the Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting next week. The meeting could be convened in a day or two, he added.

Haq said a meeting with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sardar Muhammad Raza was necessary after the Supreme Court decision. The PML-N had in a meeting last year decided Shahbaz's name for the prime minister in case of victory in general elections.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday announced its verdict on petitions challenging the Elections Act 2017, ruling that a person disqualified under articles 62 and 63 could not serve as the head of a political party.

The decision by the three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, is considered another blow to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N), as Nawaz Sharif will no longer remain the party president. As a result of the verdict, all decisions taken by Nawaz Sharif as the PML-N president stand null and void.

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