ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s ruling Muslim League party elected on Tuesday Shahbaz Sharif as its president.
Shahbaz replaces his brother, Nawaz, after he was banned three weeks ago by the Supreme Court from leading the party over alleged corruption.
“It is a huge opportunity for me that Nawaz has bestowed this challenge upon me,” Shahbaz Sharif, who is head of government of Punjab province, said in an address after his election at a party convention in Islamabad.
“I am humbled and scared also but I will continue working hard with your blessings,” he added.
Shahbaz was elected acting president of the party on Feb. 27 and the PML-N’s Central Working Committee appointed him the president after a unanimous vote on Tuesday.
At the vote in February, the party had also elected Nawaz Sharif as “Quaid” (leader) for life, a symbolic post.
After a six-month investigation into his role in the Panama Papers scandal, the Pakistani Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister in July on charges that he failed to declare income from a salary from a company owned by his son in the United Arab Emirates.
The court considered this “dishonesty” and disqualified the leader, transferring the case to an anti-corruption court to ascertain if there were grounds for a penal sentence, which subsequently launched investigations against Nawaz Sharif, three of his children and his son-in-law into the ownership of various companies and properties in London.
Two months later, in October, the PML-N used its majority in the National Assembly – the lower house – to drop a clause which prohibited disqualified members of parliament from becoming presidents of political parties, and re-elected Nawaz Sharif as party president.
However, on Feb. 21, the Supreme Court banned the three-time PM from leading the party due to his disqualification as prime minister and annulled all decisions taken by him as party chief.