ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s ruling Muslim League (Nawaz) party elected Shahbaz Sharif as acting president of the party on Tuesday, six days after the Supreme Court had banned his brother Nawaz Sharif from leading the party.
The party also elected Nawaz Sharif as “Quaid” (leader) for life, a symbolic post.
“Humbled by the confidence my leader Nawaz Sharif and CWC (Central Working Committee) reposed in me,” Shahbaz Sharif had tweeted after his election as president.
“Vow to work day in and day out to come up to the expectation of the party leadership & workers,” he added.
PML-N rules say that a new acting president has to be appointed within one week of the post becoming vacant and a permanent president has to be elected within 45 days.
After a six-month investigation into his role in the Panama Papers scandal, the Pakistani Supreme Court had disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister in July on charges that he failed to declare income from a salary from a company owned by his son in the United Arab Emirates.
The court considered this “dishonesty” and disqualified the leader and transferred the case to an anti-corruption court to ascertain if there were grounds for a penal sentence.
Two months later, in October, the PML-N used its majority in the National Assembly – the lower house – to drop a clause which prohibited disqualified members of parliament from becoming presidents of political parties, and re-elected Nawaz Sharif as party president.
However, last Wednesday the Supreme Court banned the three-time prime minister from leading the party due to his disqualification as prime minister and annulled all decisions taken by him as party chief.
The Supreme court’s decision came ahead of elections for the Senate – the upper house –, which the PML-N candidates would have to contest as independents as their candidatures were signed by Nawaz Sharif.
Nawaz Sharif, three of his children and son-in-law are facing investigations related to ownership of various companies and property in an exclusive zone in London.