Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan’s PM-in-waiting and dynastic heir
ISLAMABAD: Mian Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister-in-waiting and current chief minister of the powerful Punjab province, is considered the more intelligent younger brother of the charismatic three-time premier Nawaz.
Shahbaz Sharif was named as his brother’s successor Saturday, becoming heir to the Sharif political dynasty — but first he will have to contest elections to win a national assembly seat.
A tough administrator with a reputation for passionate outbursts and a fondness for hats, he was first elected as chief minister in Punjab in 1997.
Two years later General Pervez Musharraf ousted his brother — then serving his second term as prime minister — in a military coup and both brothers went into exile in Saudi Arabia, not returning until 2007.
Shahbaz was again elected as chief minister of Punjab, the family’s power base, in 2008 and has been in place since then, becoming the longest serving top official in the province.
In Punjab — Pakistan’s most populous and prosperous province — he has presided over a series of big ticket infrastructure projects, including Pakistan’s first metro bus service.
He is known for using revolutionary poetry in speeches and public meetings and considered by some to be a workaholic.
His scandalous relationships fuelled headlines in the past, but his marriage to the author Tehmina Durrani, who is his fifth wife, in 2003 has since dampened the media frenzy.
Durrani, a feminist whose book “My Feudal Lord” earned her international acclaim, is also credited with improving Sharif’s respect for women.
Sharif will have to resign his provincial seat and contest a National Assembly seat before stepping into his brother’s recently-vacated shoes as prime minister.
Party loyalist Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former oil minister, is expected to act as placeholder until then.