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Born in Lahore in 1950, Mian Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif is the younger brother of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief and thrice-elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

He is the second son of Mian Mohammad Sharif.

He has served as Punjab’s chief minister three times; he held the post from 1997-1999, before former military ruler Pervez Musharraf exiled the Sharif brothers to Saudi Arabia, and then again from 2008-2013 and 2013-2018.

Considered a workaholic, Shahbaz preferred to call himself Khadim-i-Aala (chief servant) rather than chief minister.

He is an influential businessman and jointly owns Ittefaq Group of Companies. He was also elected president of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industries in 1985.

Nawaz Sharif, seated in a bus, being briefed on the route of the Metro Bus Service by Shahbaz Sharif. —File
Nawaz Sharif, seated in a bus, being briefed on the route of the Metro Bus Service by Shahbaz Sharif. —File

Shahbaz was first elected MPA to the Punjab Assembly in 1988. In 1990, he chose to run for a National Assembly seat, returning as an MNA. However, in 1993, he again stood for a provincial assembly seat and became leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly. His term ended in 1996 when the assemblies were dissolved.

After his win in the 1997 election, Shahbaz earned the opportunity to serve the largest province of the country for the first time and remained its chief minister until Musharraf’s military coup in 1999.

Following his return from nearly a decade-long exile, Shahbaz became chief minister of Punjab for the second time after PML-N won the majority number of seats in the province in the 2008 election.

Shahbaz won three Punjab Assembly seats (PP-159, PP-161 and PP-247) and one National Assembly seat (NA-129) in 2013; however, he opted to retain PP-159.

He is considered a strong and determined individual as well as a competent administrator. He has attained visible success in developmental work in Punjab, with the Metro Bus projects in Punjab frequently touted as some of his biggest achievements.

Shahbaz Sharif shakes hands with Nawaz Sharif after being elected President of PML-N at the General Workers Council in Islamabad. — File
Shahbaz Sharif shakes hands with Nawaz Sharif after being elected President of PML-N at the General Workers Council in Islamabad. — File

Following the July 28 Panama Papers verdict by the Supreme Court in which Nawaz Sharif was disqualified and in the wake of the apex court’s decision striking down a controversial amendment to the Elections Act 2017 that allowed the elder Sharif to resume party leadership after the judgement, the PML-N Central Working Committee elected Shahbaz Sharif its president.

Shahbaz won NA-132 (Lahore) and PP-164 and PP-165 seats of the Punjab Assembly in the 2018 general elections — in which the PTI secured more votes than the PML-N. He retained NA-132.

Opposition parties that cried foul during and after the elections, unanimously accepted the PML-N Chairman as their nominee for the office of prime minister. The decision was taken at the multi-party conference held in Islamabad earlier this month in the wake of the alleged rigging during the July 25 polls.

PPP, however, opposing Shahbaz's candidature decided at the eleventh hour to “abstain” from the PM vote to be held today in the National Assembly.

Shahbaz's son, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, who served as an MNA in the last government, following the 2018 general elections has been nominated by the PML-N for the slot of Punjab chief minister — and in case of losing the slot, is expected to be the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly.