Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif may not be contesting for the National Assembly constituency, NA-120 by poll in Lahore as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is set to hold a high level meeting of PML-N leaders to review his decision of elevating Shehbaz to the Centre.
An intense debate is going on over the Punjab chief minister's elevation to the Centre. "Some party leaders think Punjab is very important for the PML-N and Shahbaz Sharif should continue serving here, while others want to see him as premier. However, the party leadership will have to hold another parliamentary party meeting if it thinks it needs to revisit its earlier decision of endorsing Shahbaz for prime minister," Punjab government's spokesperson Malik Ahmad told Dawn. "As of now, there is no change in Shahbaz's candidature for the prime minister slot," a PML-N senior leader told Dawn on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, many in the Nawaz camp suggested that new Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi must retain the position for the remaining term of the PML-N government i.e. till 2018 elections.
Immediately after the prime minister's ouster, the PML-N parliamentary party had endorsed his nomination as the next prime minister for 10 months till the next election. Subsequently, CM Sharif had reportedly pitched his son, MNA Hamza Shahbaz, as his possible replacement in Punjab.But Nawaz Sharif is not willing to allow Hamza rule Punjab while his father Shehbaz at the centre.
"To be or not to be - that is the situation CM Sharif is facing these days. Statements of close aides, like provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, that he should not leave the office of chief minister, are being construed by many in the PML-N as if the decision to elevate him to the Centre is not yet final,"
"Some tricky business is under way. We do not know what has happened after Nawaz Sharif nominated his brother for the PM slot. As of today, we are being told that Punjab is very important to the PML-N and it needs Shahbaz desperately...to continue his vigorous policies...the final decision of his elevation to the Centre will be taken in a few days," the party leader adds.
There are also reports that Nawaz Sharif's refusal to nominate his nephew Hamza as the chief minister of Punjab has annoyed his brother, who might choose not to give up the post in the province because of it.