Shehbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab in Pakistan, is likely to be the next prime minister of the country after Nawaz Sharif was disqualified from holding office by the Supreme Court on Friday due to allegations of corruption in connection with the Panama Papers leak.
The court ruled that Sharif had been dishonest to the Parliament and the courts. The removal of Sharif, who was serving his third term in office, comes roughly a year before his term was to end.
The Joint Investigation Team's (JIT) report had said that there was a "significant gap/disparity" between the declared sources of income and the actual wealth accumulated by Sharif, his sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.
Who is Shehbaz Sharif?
Shehbaz is the brother of ousted PM Nawaz Sharif and son of late Muhammad Sharif. He is currently the chief minister of Punjab, the most populous province of Pakistan.
Shehbaz's political career began when he was elected to the Punjab Provincial Assembly in 1988. He was then elected to the National Assembly in 1990 before becoming the leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Provincial Assembly in 1993. He was sworn in as the chief minister of Punjab on February 20, 1997, after being elected to the Assembly for the third time.
However, Shehbaz could not complete his term as he was removed from his post and forcibly exiled to Saudi Arabia following the military coup in 1999. In 2003, an anti-terrorism court issued an arrest warrant against him on charges of ordering extrajudicial killings of five people in a fake police encounter in 1998 while he was the Punjab CM.
Shehbaz returned to Pakistan in 2007. However, he was not allowed to contest the general elections in 2008 due to the murder charges. He was later acquitted of all charges in connection with the extrajudicial killings.
When the Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N) won the 2008 general elections, Shehbaz was again appointed the chief minister of Punjab. He was elected as the CM for the third term in 2013. During his decade-long tenure as the Punjab CM, he presided over several infrastructure projects, including the first metro bus service of Pakistan.
Shehbaz is known to be a strict disciplinarian and powerful administrator. He reportedly tried to do away with the bureaucratic red tape culture and focused on health, education, agriculture and industrial sectors.
Shehbaz completed his graduation from the Government College in Lahore and soon began his career as a businessman. In 1985, he became the president of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He has also represented Pakistan at several international forums including the United Nations, where his views and speaking prowess were appreciated. His keynote speech at the International Labour Conference in Geneva in 1981 was lauded by workers and activists across the globe.
Shehbaz will have to win a seat in the National Assembly within the next 45 days to be elected as the prime minister of Pakistan following Nawaz's ouster. Meanwhile, the government has still not made any announcement on who would become the country's interim PM till Shehbaz's election to the National Assembly.