PML-N leaders, in a parliamentary committee meeting headed by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday, decided that Nawaz's younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, should take over as the party's leader in parliament.
Additionally, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who was till Friday the petroleum minister, will take over as interim prime minister till the time Shahbaz is elected to parliament, and then to the prime minister's office.
Shahbaz's ascension to the prime minister's office is considered to be a foregone conclusion, as the PML-N continues to hold a hefty majority in parliament and can independently vote him into office. He will also likely seek election to the National Assembly from Nawaz Sharif's constituency, which is a PML-N stronghold.
As part of the agreed-on course of action, Shahbaz will also have to forego his seat in the Punjab Assembly and his successor will need to be chosen. Sources claim that Punjab Excise and Taxation Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman is likely to replace Shahbaz as the chief minister Punjab.
A formal announcement has been made in this regard.
Abbasi, during the meeting, said that the party had made a decision and everyone had acted on it. "There is no conflict in the party. We may have given in, but history will not accept this decision [to disqualify Nawaz Sharif]. The nation has not accepted this decision," he added.
The names were finalised over the course of two meetings on Saturday attended by close aides of the outgoing prime minister. One was an informal meeting including Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Ahsan Iqbal, Ayaz Sadiq, Saad Rafique, Rana Tanveer, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Shahbaz Sharif along with other members of the PML-N's leadership; the other was a full meeting of the PML-N's parliamentary committee.
The meetings came as the PML-N deliberated its political and legal options after Nawaz's disqualification and mulled over who would take over the party's reins in parliament.
Shahbaz's nomination an 'insult'
Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah on Saturday said that Shahbaz Sharif's nomination as Nawaz Sharif's successor is an insult to the rest of PML-N's parliamentarians.
"The fact that Nawaz chose his brother as the candidate for Pakistan's next prime minister goes to show that PML-N has no capable leaders within the political party," he said.
"The choice of Shahbaz is an insult to every other party leader: wouldn't they feel as if they lack potential?" he said.
Discussing the matter of Nawaz's disqualification, Shah claimed that the third-time-removed premier had no one to blame but himself.
"Nawaz Sharif is responsible for the Supreme Court's verdict. He did not maintain the sanctity of the parliament and paid the price. We told him repeatedly in the past four years to work towards strengthening the parliament and not towards weakening it."
"The Supreme Court verdict was unanimous and Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified for life: this is the result of his lack of respect for the institutions," he said.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan also lashed out at Nawaz Sharif on Twitter for "insulting [the] nation's intelligence and making [a] mockery of democracy" by nominating Shahbaz as his successor.
The PTI chief observed that the SC, while announcing the Panamagate verdict, had also ordered the filing of references against Shahbaz.