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Sharif, frontrunner as next Pakistani PM, seen as ‘can-do’ administrator -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sherif is the leader of the opposition and brother to ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He gestures during his speech to the media in Islamabad (Pakistan), April 7, 2022. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Syed Raza Hassan, Gibran Naiyyar Pershimam

ISLAMABAD, (Reuters) – Shehbaz Sharif is Pakistan’s most probable next prime minister. However, he has a domestic reputation as an efficient administrator rather than as a politician.

Shehbaz, the 70-year-old younger brother to Nawaz Sharif was an unsuccessful bid of the opposition to defeat Imran Khan. Khan’s supporters tried to block it for hours.

Analysts believe Shehbaz enjoys friendly relations with Pakistan’s army, which has traditionally controlled foreign and defense policy for the nation of 220 millions people.

The generals of Pakistan have intervened in civilian elections three times. Since 1947, no South Asian state has been independent from Britain.

Khan’s defeat was an opportunity to shine, Shehbaz said shortly after the election. He said, “A new dawn has begun… This alliance will rebuild Pakistan.”

Shehbaz is a member of the rich Sharif dynasty. He’s best-known for his “can-do” style of administration. This was evident when he served as chief minister in Punjab province and worked with China to fund projects.

In an interview with The Guardian last week, Khan also indicated that Pakistan’s good relations are crucial for the United States for both better and worse.

Sharif is not yet eligible to become Pakistan’s 23rd prime Minister.

He faces immediate problems if he accepts the position, including Pakistan’s rapidly falling economy and high inflation.

Analysts say Sharif won’t act completely independent as he must work with his brother and other opposition parties to achieve a common agenda.

Since being released from prison, Nawaz, where he was serving an indictment for corruption, has been living for two years in London.

‘PUNJAB SPEED’

Shehbaz Sharif was Pakistan’s chief minister for Punjab. He planned and implemented a variety of infrastructure mega-projects including Pakistan’s first mass transportation system.

Local media reports that the Chinese consul general sent Sharif a letter last year praising Sharif’s “Punjab Speed,” execution of projects in the massive China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative (CPEC).

Also, the diplomat said that Sharif’s party and China would be good friends in both government and opposition.

Islamabad in Afghanistan is being pressured by the international community to make Taliban comply with human rights and to try to reduce instability.

Khan has not been a fan of Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalism Prime Minister, but the Sharif political dynasty is more friendly towards Pakistan, whose nuclear-armed neighbor has fought three wars.

Sharif is known for his close relationship with Nawaz, and has played the role of Nawaz’s “bad guy” in the past. Nawaz has had many public disputes with Sharif.

Shehbaz was the son of a rich industrial family in Lahore and received his education locally. Then he joined the family business to jointly run a Pakistani-owned steel company.

In Punjab, he entered politics and became the chief minister. However, in 1997 he was arrested in connection with a coup military coup. After being released from prison, he fled to Saudi Arabia and was exiled in 2000.

Shehbaz, who was exiled in 2007, returned to Punjab in order to resume his political career.

After Nawaz’s 2017 conviction on concealing assets in connection to Panama Papers revelations, he was made the head of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and subsequently entered politics.

Sharif’s family and friends claim that the cases were political motivated.

Both of their brothers faced multiple corruption cases at the National Accountability Bureau. Khan was also premier. But Shehbaz is not guilty.

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