ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s prime minister designate, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, is a veteran lawmaker and close ally of Nawaz Sharif, who nominated him for the country’s top political post after the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif on allegations of corruption.
Abbasi, 58, has been elected six times to Pakistan’s National Assembly or powerful Lower House of Parliament.
He was first elected to Parliament in 1988 from the mountain resort area of Murree in Pakistan’s largest province of Punjab, where 60 percent of Pakistan’s 200 million people live.
He has served in a variety of Cabinet positions. Most recently he was Petroleum Minister in Sharif’s Cabinet until Friday’s Supreme Court decision disqualified Sharif and forced the selection of a replacement.
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Abbasi is a stalwart in Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party. When Sharif was overthrown in a bloodless coup in 1999 by military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Abbasi was charged with aiding Sharif, who had sought to avoid the coup by refusing to allow Musharraf’s plane to land in Pakistan. Abbasi was thrown in jail, but acquitted of any wrongdoing two years later.
Abbasi received his master’s degree in electrical engineering from the United States. He briefly owned an airline and served as chairman of Pakistan’s national airline Pakistan International Airlines.
Abbasi is expected to be sworn in as prime minister following a Parliamentary vote next week. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League holds a comfortable majority in Parliament guaranteeing Sharif’s nominee the win.
Still Abbasi is expected to serve as prime minister for only 45 days until Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz, who is the chief minister of Punjab province, contends and wins a by-election in the seat left vacant by his brother’s disqualification. Shahbaz Sharif is then expected to become prime minister until the next general elections are held in June 2018.
Abbasi is a married father of three.