Minister of Petroleum and Natural resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has been appointed interim prime minister while Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the chosen successor to his ousted brother’s office, is elected to the National Assembly. Rumors suggest that the PML-N leadership has considered the possibility of Shehbaz getting mired in a potential Hudaibiya Mills NAB reference in which case Abbasi will remain prime minister until 2018 general elections. However, the new interim-PM is also no stranger to controversy.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is regarded as an intelligent politician and a trusted PML-N loyalist. He spent almost two years in incarceration after Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s coup because he reportedly refused to testify against Nawaz Sharif.
He has faced a myriad of accusations regarding corruption; namely, approving an LNG deal with a Qatari energy company at above market rates and allegedly causing damages worth of Rs.220 billion to the national exchequer. He is also the principal accused behind the decline of Pakistan International Airlines, he is said to have purposefully disrupted the operations of the PIA while director so that his privately owned airline, Airblue, could capture a significant market share.
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A senior leader, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is regarded as an intelligent politician and a trusted PML-N loyalist. He spent almost two years in incarceration after Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s coup because he reportedly refused to testify against Nawaz Sharif. Given his past loyalty to the Sharif family and his sharp political mind, Abbasi is the logical choice for this crucial role while the party is faced with an existential crisis.
But even before he is officially appointed, the opposition has made its intent to pursue legal action over his alleged corruption clear. Sheikh Rashid, also one of the three petitioners in the Panamagate case, has announced that he will be filing a petition to the Supreme Court against Abbasi regarding his role in the LNG corruption scandal.
Previously, a NAB bench had dismissed the case and closed the investigation, citing the reason that a probe into the LNG deal may disrupt sensitive national matters.
In response to the opposition’s threat, Abbasi said while addressing the media “Not only one case but get registered 10 references against me,” seemingly confident about his innocence.
The arguably unsavory background of the soon to be prime minister has some analysts and commentators prophesizing another PML-N disqualification
Other than corruption allegations, Abbasi has also been accused of covering up details of the crash of Airblue flight 202, the deadliest in the nation’s history. Reportedly, he also backed out of properly compensating the families of those who perished in the crash.
The arguably unsavory background of the soon to be prime minister has some analysts and commentators prophesizing another PML-N disqualification. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan announced his party’s intention to aggressively pursue the cases against Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Shehbaz Sharif in the Supreme Court during his ‘thanksgiving’ rally at the capital on Sunday evening.