Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif — the president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and former leader of Opposition, was elected the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan on Monday (April 11). Shehbaz Sharif secured 174 votes, said PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq, who was chairing the session after the resignation of Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri ahead of the vote.
How It Unfolded
Ahead of the voting, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) legislators resigned en masse from the National Assembly and walked out after a speech by former Foreign Minister and PTI candidate for prime ministerial post, Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Earlier, former Prime Minister Imran Khan had resigned from the membership of the House after holding a meeting with his parliamentary party delegation.
PM In The Making
The younger brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was set to grab the top post after former Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was ousted from power, following the no-confidence motion.
The voting on the no-confidence motion resulted in the Imran Khan-led government losing with 174 votes in favour of the no-confidence motion.
Sharif's Candidature Revealed By PPP Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Sharif's candidature as the Opposition's choice for the Prime Ministership was revealed by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during a joint press conference of the opposition parties on March 30.
He was elected as the Prime Minister in the same National Assembly session, which saw the ouster of Imran Khan, in accordance with the order of the Pakistan Supreme Court.
Historic Decision By Pakistan SC
Pakistan's Supreme Court in a historic judgement on Thursday had called for the convening of the session of the National Assembly "not later than 10:30am on Saturday" after setting aside the April 3 ruling of the Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri against the no-confidence motion on "Constitutional grounds".
Declaring the ruling of the Deputy Speaker "to be contrary to the Constitution and the law and of no legal effect", the Court set aside all the subsequent steps taken, including the dissolution of the National Assembly, while also restoring Prime Minister Imran Khan and all the Federal Ministers to their respective positions as of April 3.
The court also fixed the Saturday session with the conditions that the session cannot be prorogued unless the motion is voted upon, and in case Imran Khan loses the no-trust vote, the next PM had to be elected in the same session.
It's All About Shehbaz
Shehbaz Sharif, born in an industrialist family in Lahore in 1950, is the younger brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has served for three terms. Shehbaz Sharif has been the Chief Minister of the crucial Punjab province of Pakistan for three terms.
Having made a reputation as an administrator, Shehbaz Sharif had staked claims for the Prime Minister's chair in August 2018. But the decision of the Bilawal Bhutto-led PPP to abstain from the PM vote in the last hour paved the way for the comfortable election of PTI's Imran Khan as the Prime Minister. Shehbaz Sharif had then settled as the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the National Assembly.
Education And Political Career
A graduate of the Government College University, Lahore, Shehbaz Sharif initially joined his family's steel business, while also becoming the president of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industries in 1985.
The political fortunes of the Sharif family rose considerably in the 1980s under the dictatorship of Zia-ul-Haq, with elder brother Nawaz Sharif inducted into the Punjab Provincial Cabinet as Finance Minister in 1983.
Shehbaz Sharif entered the Punjab Provincial Assembly in 1988 while he was elected to the National Assembly in 1990. In 1993, he again stood for a Provincial Assembly seat and became leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly.
He became the Chief Minister of Punjab for the first time after the 1997 elections. However, his term was cut short by Pervez Musharraf's military coup of 1999 after which he became the CM of the Punjab province again in 2008, returning from almost a decade long political exile.
Charges Against Shehbaz
Shehbaz Sharif was elected unopposed as the President of PML-N in February 2018, following his elder brother, and then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's disqualification from holding key positions after being implicated in the 'Panama Papers'.
Like his elder brother, Shehbaz Sharif also faces serious corruption charges. In December 2019, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) froze 23 properties belonging to Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Hamza, accusing them of money laundering.
He was arrested by NAB in the same case in September 2020 and incarcerated pending trial. In April 2021, the Lahore High Court released him on bail in the money laundering case.
Opposition Unity Favoured Shehbaz Sharif
The factors favouring the younger Sharif, however, include the Opposition unity against Imran Khan's 'vindictive politics' as well as the tactic support of the military establishment, which seems to be keen to unseat Imran Khan from power, especially after his recent vitriolic comments against the US, including raising the foreign conspiracy charge.
With the Sharif family back in power in Pakistan, amid the fast-deteriorating economic situation and political instability, it is to be seen if Shehbaz Sharif infuses fresh energy into the system, or the much-tainted family continues to resort to its old ways.