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‘All PML-N MPAs back Hamza for CM slot’

Updated July 31, 2017

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Hamza Shahbaz - File
Hamza Shahbaz - File

LAHORE: The PML-N Punjab parliamentary party members on Sunday ‘unanimously’ backed Hamza Shahbaz for the chief minister’s slot, requesting ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif not to consider anyone else other than a Sharif family scion for the position after Shahbaz Sharif becomes premier, says Punjab government spokesperson.

Endorsing Mr Hamza, son of Shahbaz Sharif, for the top post in Punjab, over 300 MPAs from the ruling party reported to have conveyed their ‘sentiments’ to Nawaz Sharif saying they “wanted only a member of the Sharif family and no one else” to replace Shahbaz Sharif.

“The PML-N Punjab parliamentary party has overwhelmingly endorsed the name of Hamza Shahbaz for Punjab chief minister. They have conveyed their request to Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif in this regard,” Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmad Khan told Dawn on Sunday.

The PML-N MPAs’ ‘endorsement’ has come a day after Shahbaz Sharif expressed his wish to his elder brother Nawaz to nominate his son for Punjab chief minister slot.

Malik Ahmad said all the PML-N MPAs from Punjab were of the view that they would be more comfortable working with Hamza than with any other member of the assembly. “During the last couple of days consultative meetings had been held with the party MPAs who categorically said that a Sharif family member should replace Shahbaz Sharif who is going to become prime minister in less than two months,” he said.

Malik Ahmad further said Mr Hamza had also played an important role in the party’s victory in local body election last year. “Hamza Shahbaz not only reconciled with the rival groups in the party in different constituencies but also short-listed candidates. Besides, he is well aware of the ongoing development projects in the province and will be in a better position to oversee their completion during the remaining term of the PML-N government,” he said.

Nawaz Sharif had on Saturday formally announced that his younger brother Shahbaz would be his successor, while Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi would be premier for 45 days till Shahbaz contests the by-election from NA-120 in order to get to the National Assembly.

The provincial government spokesman also hinted that the PML-N might not need to have interim arrangement in Punjab, like it did in the Centre and Shahbaz Sharif would continue as chief minister till he assumed the charge of the premier. “There has been no legal bar on Shahbaz Sharif continuing as chief minister till he becomes prime minister. Therefore, we do not need interim chief minister in Punjab,” Malik Ahmad claimed.

The Punjab government spokesman added the Sharif family had been further united after the crisis it was in and would emerge more stronger. “Nawaz Sharif will decide the name for Punjab chief minister after the election of (interim) prime minister on coming Tuesday. The parliamentary party will accept Nawaz Sahrif’s decision even if he chooses someone other than a member the Sharif family for Punjab’s top slot,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2017