Pakistan's disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has "smartly deprived" his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif of an opportunity to become premier, PML-N members in Punjab province believe.
Many Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders believe the Chief Minister of Punjab has missed or made to miss a "golden opportunity" to succeed his elder brother, and that Nawaz Sharif has shattered the dreams of his nephew Hamza Sharif to take up the reins in the province, Dawn online reported.
According to them, there is no guarantee that Shehbaz Sharif will make it to Islamabad to don the premier's cap in 2018 (if PML-N wins the election) as more players from Sharif family may be in the race for the top post.
The former Prime Minister's wife Kalsoom might contest if his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif remain entangled in the accountability process till 2018 election, the party leaders said.
"He (Shahbaz) has either failed to convince his elder brother or the latter played smart politics to keep him in Punjab," a PML-N leader close to Shehbaz Sharif told Dawn on Friday.
"Perhaps Shehbaz missed the golden chance of becoming premier. Who knows about 2018 election's outcome and family politics then."
"Nawaz played excellent family politics. First he announced Shehbaz as his successor. Later a campaign within the PML-N was built that Shehbaz's absence from Punjab would be disastrous for the party," another leader said.
According to the anonymous party member, Shehbaz Sharif had tried his best to convince his elder brother not to worry about Punjab and leave it to his son Hamza Sharif.
The Chief Minister also sent a request to Nawaz Sharif from more than 300 PML-N MPs from Punjab, endorsing Shehbaz Sahrif in the centre and Hamza Sharif in Punjab.
"Once the decision was conveyed to Shahbaz, he asked Rana Sanaullah to tell the media that most party members wanted him in Punjab. It was only a face saving for Shehbaz."
A federal minister told Dawn that the decision to "retain" Shehbaz Sharif had been finalised.
"The extended cabinet of Abbasi is a proof of it," he said, adding the current arrangement suited the leadership as Nawaz Sharif would see matters in the Centre and Shehbaz Sharif in Punjab.
A mere "official" announcement is left from the PML-N about withdrawing Shehbaz Sharif from the election race.
After the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case verdict disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding the Prime Minister's post, he had announced that his brother would be the premier after an interim arrangement of 45 days for which Abbasi was selected.
Some federal ministers including Khawaja Asif and Khurram Dastgir had already said they wanted Shehbaz Sharif in Punjab, which is a stronghold of PML-N.
"Since Shehbaz has good equation with all MPs in Punjab and development projects are on his finger tips, a larger section of the party is of the view that he should continue delivering in Punjab," Dastgir said.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said: "The decision that Shehbaz Sharif will continue serving in Punjab is almost certain."
Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmad Khan told Dawn on Friday that parliamentary party headed by Nawaz Sharif was authorised to announce reversal of its earlier decision to nominate Shahbaz Sharif for Prime Minister's post.
Khan however denied any differences in the Sharif brothers saying the crisis had even further united them.
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Updated Date: Aug 05, 2017 15:28:56 IST