Profile of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi: Pakistan's interim prime minister

Pakistan's ruling PML-N party on Saturday named former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the interim Prime Minister until ousted premier Nawaz Sharif's younger brother and Punjab chief minister Shehbaz is elected as a member of Parliament to be his eventual successor till the 2018 polls.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pakistan's petroleum minister and a loyalist of the Sharif administration, has now assumed office as interim prime minister [WP report].

Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by a five-member bench of the country's Supreme Court after a corruption probe into his family's ill-gotten wealth, cutting short his third stint in power.

Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party has a strong majority in parliament and would easily install Abbasi as the new leader of the country.

Mr Sharif proposed Mr Abbasi as interim prime minister at the meeting of the Pakistan Muslim League party in Islamabad. "However, [it is up to] Nawaz Sharif to decide whether Hamza will be the right choice for the post or not", said a senior PML-N legislator from Punjab. Subsequently, the PM House issued a terse statement saying that he, despite having reservations on the court verdict, has relinquished the office of prime minister.

The armed forces - which is Pakistan's most powerful and organized institution - has orchestrated coups in the past and controls the nuclear-armed nation's foreign policy. An election is scheduled for June of next year.

On Friday, Sharif was forced to step down following a Supreme Court ruling that deemed him disqualified over corruption charges. The party will nominate a candidate for a 45-day interim premier later on Saturday, Haq said.

The chief minister of the vast and politically important Punjab province, Shahbaz Sharif, 65, is not now a member of parliament. Finally justice has prevailed, as the Supreme Court of Pakistan has proven that nobody is above the law.

The court has also ordered a criminal investigation into Sharif, 67, and his family.

Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif.

Speaking at a news conference, Khan said the apex court did not disqualify Nawaz Sharif on the pleas of tax evasion, concealing of assets and the ownership of flat in London but disqualified him on other reason.

According to party sources, Sharif was conscious that bringing Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz to Islamabad may create political vacuum in the crucial state, which PML-N can not afford ahead of next year elections.

The former president declared reports regarding Hurriyet leaders receiving funds from Pakistan and torching the schools as "malicious propaganda".

  • Rogelio Becker