ISLAMABAD – A question arising from prevailing uncertain atmosphere after the Supreme Court today (Friday) declared Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif disqualified that who will hold the reins of PML-N led government if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is disqualified.
The 5-o verdict was announced by a five-judge bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa – the same judge who had commenced his dissenting note in the April 20 judgment with a quote from Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather and declared Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ‘disqualified’ for not being honest to the nation.
As a three-member special bench announced to reserve verdict on July 21 in the high-profile case took up by the apex court in November last year, the ruling party held several meetings to chart post-verdict strategies.
In meetings sans Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the PML-N leadership decided to accept any verdict in the case and no agitation will be shown if an unfavourable decision is pronounced by the court despite having reservations.
According to local media, a major point regarding who will be the next head of the government in case of any mishap also remained under discussion during the meetings.
Names of Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who attended every meeting of PML-N chaired by the premier, emerged on the media as potential candidates for the office.
A day after court reserved decision in the case, PM Nawaz Sharif called a meeting of party leaders where he expressed full confidence in the court and resolved to accept any verdict to be announced by the court.
But the local media came up with an inside story of the huddle quoting sources that party stalwarts had made a consensus to elect Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister on premier’s disqualification.
The party leaders also decided that Defence Minister Khawaja Asif would be installed as interim prime minister for 45 days, following which Shehbaz would be elected for National Assembly seat through by-polls.
However, Khawaja Asif has denied all such news, adding that the entire party was standing behind Nawaz Sharif. There is no candidate for prime ministership, he added.
On the other hand, mysterious banners supporting Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also put up in the provincial capital, Lahore, besides asking Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down and let his younger brother, serving as Punjab’s chief minister, fill the slot.
However, the party has not issued any official statement in this regard as it is optimistic about its chances of winning the case.
Now, the verdict of the Supreme Court will decide whether a new prime minister will be installed or Nawaz will continue to rule.