ISLAMABAD: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is ‘unofficially’ at the helm of affairs at the Centre in a bid to iron out serious differences between federal ministers over running the federal government in the absence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Sometime back, a group of PML-N lawmakers requested Shahbaz to unofficially take charge of government affairs until his elder brother was back in office in view of differences among powerful members of the federal cabinet.
In PM’s absence, who runs the govt?
The premier is currently recuperating in London after an open heart surgery. On account of his speedy recovery, he has been discharged from the hospital and shifted home. Last month, the ruling PML-N deliberated on different options to run government affairs in his absence. However, the scenario hardly left space for any minister to function as the premier’s temporary replacement. Subsequently, Shahbaz was requested to intervene and take charge till his elder brother was back in business. Before he left for London, the prime minister delegated his authority to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar but the decision did not go down well with some powerful members of the cabinet, who reportedly hold grudges against one another.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of these legislators from Rawalpindi told The Express Tribune that Shahbaz was found to be the only agreeable name in the scenario. “Nobody except him was acceptable as a replacement of the PM, not even on a temporary basis,” he said.
According to him, the matter was taken up with Shahbaz prior to the premier’s surgery.
‘Absence’ of Nawaz Sharif leaves PML-N in the lurch
The Express Tribune asked Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, a trusted confidante of Shahbaz, if the younger Sharif was playing any informal role at the Centre. He dismissed these reports, saying the chief minister was too busy in Punjab to get occupied elsewhere.
“Speculations have no limit. Reality is otherwise. The Sharif brothers are our leaders and we give them utmost respect. They work in well-defined spheres of authority within the ambit of the Constitution of Pakistan. Nobody thinks of crossing the limits.”
Regarding internal differences between federal ministers, Sanaullah said: “Every political party has issues. They are sorted out internally. If there are some issues in our party, they will be well sorted out. There is no need to make a mountain out of a molehill.”
Constitutionally, a chief minister cannot look after the issues of federation, which is why Shahbaz was advised to manage things at the Centre while working backstage.