LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is set to succeed his brother as the Pakistan Prime Minister, is looking to his son Hamza Shabaz as his replacement in Punjab, the media reported on Sunday. Shahbaz Sharif is known to enjoy “a degree of comfort in dealing with his son”, the Dawn newspaper reported, quoting insiders in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).According to the insiders, however, the final say on who gets to helm Punjab would rest with ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is looking to consolidate the party’s control in Punjab, the Dawn said. The PML-N cannot afford to lose its grip on Punjab since the next general elections are barely a year away.“Shahbaz wants his son, who is already acting as the Deputy Chief Minister, to succeed him for the remaining term in Punjab,” a PML-N legislator from Punjab told Dawn. “However, (it is up to) Nawaz Sharif to decide whether Hamza will be the right choice for the post or not.”The PML-N leader added that Shahbaz Nawaz would continue to oversee matters in Punjab indirectly while his elder brother, Nawaz Sharif, would continue to govern the Centre from his Raiwind residence, the report said. A Punjab minister may keep the Chief Minister’s seat warm for Shahbaz Nawaz’s son for 45 days.On Saturday, the deposed Prime Minister formally announced that Shahbaz Nawaz would be his successor and Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will be Premier for 45 days till Shahbaz Nawaz contests a by-election to enter the National Assembly. Rumours of Hamza Shahbaz’s political tiffs with Nawaz Sharif’s family and children abound.He had not openly defended his uncle (Nawaz Sharif) in the Panama Papers case, choosing not to comment too much on the issue. But both families have often denied rumours of any political disagreement.The Dawn said the names of three others – Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, Information Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman and Food Minister Bilal Yasin – were also being considered for the post of Punjab Chief Minister.
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