With Nawaz Sharif out, the question that presents itself in the wake of these developments if what now? The answer to that does not lie anywhere. The case, the procedure and the verdict have no precedent whatsoever in the history of Pakistan. The disqualification along with the procedure taken to reach this verdict has not only happened for the first time in the history of Pakistan’s judicial system but also very unique.
The verdict as claimed by the PML (N) was expected and anticipated. Following that, the abrupt resignation of Nawaz Sharif means that the course of future proceedings had already been simulated by the ruling party. Therefore, it remains to see whether the party prevails or the Sharif family.
The dissension between Chaudhary Nisar and PML (N) has exposed crack in the ruling party. Chaudhary Nisar in his conference yesterday announced that he would announce his withdrawal from Politics altogether whatever the verdict be. With Nisar sidelined, the decision still remains as to who is to become the next Prime Minister of the country.
In retrospect, since 1990, no Prime Minister has completed his/her tenure in the office. Benazir Bhutto, Yousuf Raza Gillani, Raja Pervez Ashraf and now Mian Nawaz Sharif have all fell prey to horse-trading, military takeovers or judicial disqualification.
According to the Constitution of Pakistan, in case of Prime Minister’s vacancy, the roadmap is as such:
- In the event of the death of the Prime Minister or the office of Prime Minister becoming vacant by reason of his ceasing to be a member of the National Assembly, the most senior Federal Minister for the time being shall be called upon by the President to perform the functions of that office and the Federal Ministers and Ministers of State shall continue in office until a new Prime Minister has been elected and has entered upon his office.
- If the National Assembly is in session at the time when the Prime Minister dies or the office of Prime Minister becomes vacant, the Assembly shall forthwith proceed to elect a Prime Minister, and if the Assembly is not in session the President shall for that purpose summon it to meet within fourteen days of the death of Prime Minister, or, as the case may be, of the office becoming vacant.
- When the Prime Minister, by reason of absence from Pakistan or any other cause, is unable to perform his functions, the most senior Federal Minister for the time being shall perform the functions of Prime Minister until the Prime Minister returns to Pakistan or, as the case may be, resumes his functions.
- In this Article, “most senior Federal Minister means the Federal Minister for the time being designated as such by the Prime Minister.
Three of Nawaz’s four children — Maryam, his presumptive political heir, and his sons Hasan and Hussain — were implicated in the papers. The Sharif family has consistently denied the allegations against them. Pakistan is due to hold a general election next year. But with no clear succession in place, Nawaz and the party which bears his name, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), faces an uncertain future for now.