Islamabad: Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister, has been selected as the interim Prime Minister of Pakistan, following Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification.

Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of ousted PM Nawaz Sharif, will ultimately succeed being the most favourable candidate for the premiership within the ruling party.

The decision was announced by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Saturday after a meeting headed by ousted prime minister and PML-N leaders.

The interim PM will hold the post for 45 days till Shahbaz Sharif becomes eligible for the post.

Shahbaz cannot immediately replace Nawaz Sharif as he is not a member of the Parliament. To be elected as the next prime minister of Pakistan, he will first have to step down as chief minister of Punjab and then have to be elected to the National Assembly to become eligible as the next prime minister.

Shahbaz faces challenges ahead as opposition parties seek his disqualification over Hudaibiya Paper Mills case and alleged money laundering.

Pakistan’s interim PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also faces a tough road ahead because of a controversial LNG deal signed with Qatar. Opposition leader Shaikh Rasheed has pledged to file case in the court against Abbasi on the 15-year liquefied natural gas (LNG) deal, the details of which have not been shared with the parliamentarians.

“The first task upon the new PM will be to come clean about the multibillion dollar LNG project with Qatar in accordance with the Right to Information Act” highlighted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Babar Awan. It should be mentioned here that the LNG case is under probe by National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, 67, stepped down from the office of the Prime Minister of Pakistan on July 28 after he was disqualified by the Supreme Court. Nawaz Sharif became the Prime Minister of Pakistan for three times but was expelled in the middle of his term first by the president, then the military and this time the judiciary.

Who is Shahid Khaqan Abbasi?

Abbasi was Pakistan’s Petroleum Minister in Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet. He has been elected Member of the National Assembly in six elections since 1988.

He is the founder of private airline Air Blue and served as the chairman of Pakistan International Airlines from 1997 to 1999 in Sharif’s previous government. He was arrested and remained in jail for two years by the then Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf who toppled Nawaz Sharif’s government.

Abbasi has a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from George Washington University in Washington DC. He has worked as a professional engineer in the US and the Middle East during the 1980s.