Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif has nominated his brother Shahbaz to eventually take over as leader of the country and lashed out at political rivals and the Supreme Court ruling that disqualified him from office.
Mr Sharif also put forward a staunch ally from his ruling party, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, as an interim prime minister while his brother contests a by-election for parliament to become eligible to take the reins.
For now, the nuclear-armed South Asian country is without a leader until parliament convenes to elect a new premier.
Dynastic politics have a long history in Pakistan, where in the past the military has staged multiple coups and no prime minister has completed a full term since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
Mr Sharif, whose party won a majority in parliament in 2013, said he was dumbfounded by Friday’s Supreme Court ruling to disqualify him from office over unreported income from a company owned by his son in Dubai.
The court also ordered a criminal investigation into him and his family.
He said the salary paid to him was nominal and he never received the funds, describing the court case as a political vendetta by opposition leader Imran Khan, and its verdict as judicial overreach.
“My conscience is clear,” Mr Sharif said..
Opposition party supporters celebrated the court ruling that ousted Mr Sharif. (AP: Anjum Naveed)
He also stressed that the court did not prove any corruption or siphoning off of public money after months of investigation stemming from the revelation in last year’s “Panama Papers” leaks that his children were linked to offshore companies.
Still, Mr Sharif said he would no longer seek public office and urged supporters to back his brother as a long-term successor.
‘A form of monarchy’
Pakistani opposition party leader Imran Khan derided ousted Mr Sharif’s choice, comparing the country’s tradition of political dynasties to “a form of monarchy”.
“Political parties don’t have democracy in them,” the former cricket star told Reuters in an interview
“They are family parties … actually, it’s like a form of monarchy.”
Mr Khan’s opposition party spearheaded the corruption complaint that led to the Supreme Court’s disqualification of Mr Sharif.
The dismissal has sparked uncertainty at a time when Pakistan was enjoying a rare period of relative stability, with militant attacks slowly declining and economic growth hitting its highest pace in a decade.
Mr Sharif said he would continue fighting for Pakistan’s constitution, but did not mention any role of Pakistan’s powerful military in his dismissal.
A day earlier a senior ally of Mr Sharif hinted that elements of the military were involved.
“We know very well what the crime of Nawaz Sharif and the Muslim League is. What do we ask for? We ask for civilian supremacy in Pakistan,” Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq told a news briefing on Friday.
The army has not commented on Mr Sharif’s removal, or on allegations they were involved, and has dismissed claims in the past that they were behind the Supreme Court’s push against him.