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Pakistan: PML-N Nominates Party President Shehbaz Sharif As The Prime Ministerial Candidate

The development comes a few hours after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari withdrew from the prime ministerial race, saying his party would support ex-premier Nawaz without being part of the new government.

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Shehbaz Sharif File Photo
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In a surprise development, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on Tuesday nominated its president Shehbaz Sharif as the prime ministerial candidate of Pakistan instead of the party supremo and three-time former premier Nawaz Sharif.

Taking to X, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, 74, has nominated his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif, 72, a candidate for the slot of prime minister and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, 50, for chief minister of Punjab province.

"Nawaz Sharif has thanked the political parties which provided support to the PML-N (in forming the upcoming government) and expressed hope that through such decisions Pakistan will come out of crises," she said.

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The development comes a few hours after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari withdrew from the prime ministerial race, saying his party would support ex-premier Nawaz without being part of the new government.

Despite independent candidates backed by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party springing a surprise by winning the most seats in Parliament, questions were looming over what the next government of Pakistan will look like five days after the general elections.

None of the three major parties, the PML-N, the PPP, or the PTI have won the necessary seats in the February 8 general elections to secure a majority in the National Assembly and, therefore, will be unable to form government on their own, leading to a hung Parliament.

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PML-N reportedly enjoys the backing of the powerful Pakistan Army.

Addressing a press conference here after the meeting of the PPP's high-powered Central Executive Committee (CEC), held under his leadership, Bilawal has said the reality is that his party does not have a mandate to form a federal government.

“Due to this, I will not be putting myself forward for the candidacy of the prime minister of Pakistan,” the 35-year-old former foreign minister said, adding that PML-N and the independents have greater numbers in the Centre.

Earlier in the day, former prime minister Shehbaz reaffirmed that Nawaz will become the prime minister for a record fourth time.

"I had said that Nawaz Sharif would become prime minister for the fourth time. And I maintain today that he is going to be the PM for the fourth time," Shehbaz told a press conference.

Shehbaz said he has spoken to Bilawal and his father Asif Ali Zardari and thanked them for their support to Nawaz Sharif.

"We hope that together we will be able to get Pakistan out of all political and economic crises, Inshallah," he posted on X.

The PML-N and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) have also held a meeting on Tuesday on government formation.

Both parties agreed to move forward with mutual cooperation and Shehbaz Sharif thanked the MQM-P, which has 17 lawmakers in Parliament for its support.

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Bilawal noted that Imran Khan's PTI had refused to form a coalition with the PPP which left the PML-N as the only party that had invited the PPP to join the government.

Khan on Tuesday dismissed the idea of forming a coalition government with any of the main political parties in Pakistan and termed them as the “biggest money launderers” being brought to power.

The 71-year-old Khan, also the founder of PTI, was speaking with journalists at the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. Khan and many of his party colleagues are lodged in jail for many months in connection with convictions in multiple cases.

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“There can be no alliance with PML-N, PPP, and MQM,” he said, adding that he had directed PTI Information Secretary Raouf Hasan to bring together all parties except the three parties.

Khan also warned his political rivals against the "misadventure" of forming a government with "stolen votes".

Khan, in a message on his official X handle, posted from jail through his family, said: “I warn against the misadventure of forming a government with stolen votes. Such daylight robbery will not only be a disrespect to the citizens, but will also push the country’s economy further into a downward spiral.”

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