Shehbaz Sharif
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Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination as Pakistan’s Prime Minister sparks speculation that Nawaz Sharif’s political career is over.

The surprise nomination of Shehbaz Sharif as Pakistan’s next Prime Minister has sparked speculation that this likely marks the end of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif’s political career. Shehbaz Sharif is expected to become PM after leading a six-party coalition government formed through a post-poll alliance.

Nawaz Sharif failed to secure the premiership for a record fourth time. Shehbaz, backed by the military, prevailed over 74-year-old Nawaz in the premier race. This is seen as having the powerful establishment’s blessings.

Shehbaz Sharif Led Alliance Deal After Hung Parliament

None of the major parties – PML-N, PPP or PTI – won enough seats in the February 8 election for a majority government. Therefore, they formed a post-poll coalition.

Shehbaz Sharif, 72, led the alliance deal between these leading parties. The six-party coalition is likely to take power in early March after last week’s hung parliament result.

Nawaz’s Bid to Become PM for 4th Time Fails

Nawaz Sharif wanted to become Pakistan’s PM for a historic fourth time. However, after the split mandate, he withdrew from the race for the top slot.

For years, PML-N shouted slogans of “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif” and promoted him as the next PM. However, the coalition adjustments left Nawaz with no choice but to nominate Shehbaz instead.

Maryam Insists Her Father’s Career Isn’t Over

Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam dismissed talk that her father’s career is over. She said Nawaz withdrew seeing the divided result, not because he was ending his political role.

Maryam insisted Nawaz will supervise the federal and Punjab governments and continue playing a key part. She said Nawaz isn’t interested in leading a coalition.

Some PML-N Members Upset Over Surprise Choice

Differences emerged within PML-N over Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination. Some senior members are disappointed that Nawaz isn’t becoming PM.

They point out the party always projected Nawaz as the next premier. This last-minute change has upset party workers who expected Nawaz to lead.

Imran Khan Seems to Have Ended Nawaz’s Career

Analysts believe jailed former PM Imran Khan has effectively ended Nawaz Sharif’s career by forcing him to withdraw from the PM race. The PTI founder was removed by a no-confidence motion last year.

After Khan’s ouster, Nawaz returned from exile in London. But now it appears the elder Sharif’s time is up. His nemesis Imran has had the last laugh, observers say.

Furious Debate on Social Media About Nawaz’s Future

On Wednesday, Twitter was flooded with posts by apparent PML-N supporters under the hashtag “Give Pakistan Nawaz”. This indicated unhappiness over Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination.

Over 91,000 tweets suggested the pro-Nawaz group in PML-N isn’t pleased that the younger Sharif is set to become PM instead. A furious debate raged on social media regarding Nawaz’s future.

Maryam Poised to Become Punjab’s First Woman CM

Meanwhile, Maryam Sharif is poised to make history as Punjab’s first female Chief Minister. The PTI has alleged she would get the role through a “stolen mandate”.

According to the ECP’s results, the coalition has 152 general seats after allocating women and minority quotas. This achieves the required 169 majority to form government.

Lower Voter Turnout Than 2018 Election

Pakistan recorded a 47.6% turnout in the February 8 election. This was lower than 52.1% last time in the 2018 election won by Imran Khan’s PTI.

Khan alleged the establishment and ECP rigged the polls in favour of the PML-N. He cited the reduced turnout as evidence that the public rejected the results.

Coalition Finalizes Cabinet Posts After Negotiations

The alliance partners PML-N, PPP and other parties held intense negotiations to finalize cabinet portfolios before nominating Shehbaz Sharif.

Shehbaz prevailed over Nawaz for the PM role during these talks apparently with the backing of influential quarters. Nawaz had to settle for guiding his younger sibling’s government.

Analysts See Beginning of the Post-Nawaz Era

Political analysts see Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination as PM as heralding the post-Nawaz Sharif era in Pakistan. Nawaz has dominated PML-N and national politics for much of the last 35 years.

But the compromise choice of Shehbaz signals that the three-time former premier’s powers are waning. His brother will now lead Pakistan into a new political phase.

One reason for Nawaz Sharif not becoming PM again is his ongoing legal issues. He was convicted in corruption cases related to the Panama Papers leaks.

Nawaz remaining head of PML-N while battling graft allegations could undermine the new coalition government’s legitimacy domestically and internationally.

Shehbaz Seen as More Acceptable to Establishment

Sources suggest the establishment finds Shehbaz Sharif more willing to work with them compared to his uncompromising older brother.

Nawaz’s bitter feud with the military saw him ousted in previous stints as PM. Picking the more flexible Shehbaz represents a compromise between PML-N and the security state.

PML-N Risks Split Over Dynasty Change

There is a danger that Nawaz Sharif’s reluctance to fade away gracefully could divide PML-N into rival factions. If Nawaz resists ceding power, the party could splinter.

For now, Maryam insists she and Uncle Shehbaz are loyal soldiers under Nawaz’s command. But tensions over the family’s next generation threaten PML-N’s unity.

The nomination of Shehbaz Sharif as PM-in-waiting portends the end of Nawaz’s chequered political career. After dominating the political scene for over three decades, the elder Sharif’s days at the helm seem numbered. Power has shifted to Shehbaz.

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