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The leading candidate to replace Pakistani PM ousted for corruption? His brother

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is also in the running.

Shahbaz Sharif is the main pick to succeed his brother.
Shahbaz Sharif is the main pick to succeed his brother.
Image: Liu Tan/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

PAKISTAN’S PARLIAMENT WILL meet on Tuesday to elect a new prime minister after the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif following an investigation into corruption allegations against his family.

The ruling party named Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz as his successor over the weekend, but he must first enter parliament by contesting the seat left vacant by Sharif.

In the meantime the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which enjoys a majority in parliament, has nominated ex-oil minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim prime minister.

The top court ousted Sharif on Friday after an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family, bringing his historic third term in power to an unceremonious end and briefly plunging the nuclear-armed nation into political instability.

Nawaz Sharif was the 15th prime minister in Pakistan’s 70-year history – roughly half of which was under military rule – to be ousted before completing a full term.

“The nomination papers – shall be delivered to the Secretary, National Assembly by 2.00pm, on Monday,” said a notification by the National Assembly Secretariat and seen by AFP.

It said the assembly would meet at 3.00 pm Tuesday (11am Irish time) to elect a prime minister.

The younger Sharif – who is chief minister of the country’s most populous province of Punjab – has so far been unscathed by the corruption allegations engulfing his brother’s family.

Yesterday, the Election Commission said fresh elections would be held in Nawaz Sharif’s former constituency, in the family’s power base in Punjab, in a process that could take up to 45 days.

Abbasi is set to be rubber-stamped as placeholder in the parliamentary vote. The opposition could also field a candidate but has little chance of securing enough votes in the 342-seat house.

Pakistan’s main opposition leader Imran Khan plans to hold a rally celebrating Sharif’s ousting in the capital Islamabad later today.

With corruption allegations engulfing the powerful Sharif family – a dominant force in the country’s politics for the last three decades – cricketer-turn-politician Khan is hoping to win support for his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

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The grassroots PTI has long campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and expects thousands to come out for what is dubbed a “Thanksgiving Rally”.

“It wasn’t a political game play, it was the nation’s battle against the corrupt mafia. Join Pakistan as it celebrates #YaumETashakur (Thanksgiving) today,” PTI tweeted on its official handle.

However, Khan himself faces graft allegations in court linked to the non-disclosure of assets and offshore companies – similar charges that brought down Sharif.

The case, brought by a member of Sharif’s PML-N party, seeks to have Khan disqualified on the same contentious clause in the constitution that ousted Sharif – the requirement that Pakistani politicians be honest.

Khan’s lawyers have denied all charges and say his wealth stems from his lucrative cricketing career.

© AFP 2017

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