None of the above; Shahbaz Sharif is the Prime minister of Pakistan in 2018 and here is why:
Nawaz Sharif is still the most popular civilian leader in Pakistan (Gallup & PILDAT Surveys) and he has handed over the reins of PML (N) to his brother already.
Nawaz Sharif has reached out to the countries that influence electoral results in Pakistan; that is, India (rapport with Mr. Modi), Saudi Arabia (he met Prince Salman), and the US (PM Abbasi met Mike Pence).
Only someone from the house of Nawaz, at the PM office, can keep the party together for one more term. There is no better candidate than Shahbaz Sharif. This is because PM still has considerable influence on development funds.
Now that Nawaz Sharif cannot use the Arab money for his campaign, he needs Shahbaz Sharif’s charm and dynamism to win elections with a majority.
Nawaz can afford to give Hamza Shahbaz Punjab CM seat, as the Punjabi vote is very secure due to Shahbaz’s extensive work.
Shahbaz works seamlessly with the powerful establishment in Pakistan.
Shahbaz is loyal to his elder brother.
Shahbaz is the only candidate who has influence in all four provinces of Pakistan after Nawaz. Imran Khan, Zardari, and MQM have become regional parties.
People firmly believe they need to vote for someone who can create jobs for them, and Imran Khan is not the man.
Mariam Nawaz doesn’t have roots in the people; she will not be able to survive the intense pressure to deliver in any powerful public office.
Religious leaders like Hafiz Saeed and Khadim Hussain Rizvi are a lot more charismatic than a present lot of moderate politicians. They are more heeled in the people and are intelligent enough to use the anti-US and defiant-Muslim card to sweep elections. Nawaz Sharif would be doing a disservice to his dynasty and the people in Pakistan by not giving Shahbaz Sharif free reign to campaign and counter the victimized-Muslim narrative of religious parties.
Shahbaz has the single-minded focus to change the fate of 40% borderline poor Pakistanis’. He has a proven track record in good governance. His infrastructure-focused development model can create jobs in a single PM tenure. Joblessness and lack of opportunities are the mothers of all ills in Pakistan.
Imran Khan’s campaign has lost steam, especially after his ‘pinky’ marriage and the fact that he couldn’t assimilate the FATA voter into KPK.
Zardari Sahib may be a great schemer but voters are not that ignorant anymore. Thousands of hours of TV talk shows have given them enough awareness to reject a dying symbol of the feudal class.
So the final political shape after the 2018 elections would be as follows:-
- Shahbaz Sharif PM
- Hamza Shahbaz CM Punjab initially, with Rana Sanaullah as deputy CM to run the show.
- Imran Khan’ PTI in KPK
- PMN (N) in Punjab
- PPP in Sindh
- The new party in Baluchistan
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