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Mujtaba Shuja among top contenders to replace Punjab CM

LAHORE: As incumbent Punjab Chief Minister is expected to quit the provincial assembly seat by next week to contest NA-120 by-polls to replace his brother Nawaz Sharif, the provincial Minister for Excise and Taxation Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman is likely to be elected as new chief minister of the province, party sources said.

The other top contenders for the provincial CM post include Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah, Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Iqbal and Minister for Population Welfare Begam Zakia Shahnawaz.

The party is likely to make an announcement in this regard in couple of days, sources revealed.

The sources further said that the party is mulling over two conditions for selection of new chief minister. The first condition is to select Mujtaba or any of above-named PML-N leaders as permanent CM till General Elections 2018 while the party is also considering an interim CM to get MNA Hamza Shahbaz Sharif elected as MPA from the seat vacated by his father and eventually getting him elected as new CM Punjab.

Despite MNA Hamza had been overseeing all-powerful Public Affairs unit in the province while dealing with MPAs and other local body representatives since 2013 but the party may not avail the second condition to avoid criticism from opposition and grassroots level workers for allotting all main positions to the family, sources said.

PML-N is contemplating all possibilities from all aspects before it reaches a final decision with regard to new provincial chief minister as incumbent CM Shahbaz Sharif will replace his toppled brother Nawaz Sharif by contesting NA-120 by-polls.

Moreover, the PML-N has announced the former state minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as an interim PM.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Saturday has announced Dr. Yasmin Rashid as candidate contesting by-polls for National Assembly seat from NA-120 (Lahore) constituency.

PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday said that the party had decided to field Dr. Yasmin Rashid against Shahbaz Sharif for NA-120 by-polls. “The decision is taken unanimously during the meeting,” he asserted.

It is to be mentioned here that Nawaz Sharif was disqualified on July 28 (Friday) from holding public office by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in its final judgment in the Panama Papers case.

Following the verdict, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson announced Nawaz Sharif had stepped down as the prime minister by acceding to the court orders despite having reservations, leaving the National Assembly seat vacant.

The election commission of Pakistan (ECP) is expected to announce schedule for holding NA-120 by-polls by next week after the premier’s resignation.

In the General Elections 2013, Nawaz Sharif had secured 91,683 votes by winning the seat against 52,354 votes of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s candidate Yasmin Rashid.

From Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP), former ticket holder Hafiz Zubair will be contesting the by-polls from the same constituency.



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