Story highlights

Shahbaz Sharif first must win election to Parliament

Then he would be selected PM by the ruling party

Islamabad, Pakistan CNN  — 

Nawaz Sharif, removed from office by Pakistan’s Supreme Court, said Saturday he has selected his brother to be the nation’s next prime minister.

Shahbaz Sharif, however, cannot step into the role right away because he is not a member of the National Assembly. He would have to resign his provincial position and run for the Parliament seat vacated by his brother first.

With the election 45 days away, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League named Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim prime minister.

Shahbaz Sharif, who has been a major player in Pakistani politics since the 1980s, likely will win election and the ruling party will install him as prime minister until the next general election in April.

Shahbaz Sharif, addressing a news conference in 2008.

The US-educated Abbasi has been a party loyalist for years and until the cabinet was dissolved Friday, he was the minister of petroleum and natural resources.

Children linked in Panama Papers

Nawaz Sharif was removed from office after revelations of his family’s finances that emerged in the Panama Papers leak led to a corruption probe.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, center, has been a force in Pakistan's turbulent politics for decades.

The high court ruled that Sharif had been dishonest to Parliament and to the judicial system and was no longer fit for office.

A five-judge panel announced its unanimous decision Friday afternoon. The courtroom was silent as Justice Ejaz Afzal read the judgment, and the opposition distributed candy in celebration following the verdict.

The panel investigated Sharif’s alleged links to offshore accounts and overseas properties owned by three of his adult children. The assets were not declared on his family’s wealth statement, but the Panama Papers leak in April 2016 revealed them.

The huge cache of documents allegedly connected to a Panama law firm revealed the financial dealings of some of the world’s best-known people.

Sharif was not named in the Panama Papers, but his three children were linked in the documents to offshore companies.

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What are the Panama Papers?
01:46 - Source: CNN

The Panama Papers leak sparked mass protests in Pakistan and calls from opposition political groups for a panel to investigate Sharif and his children over their alleged offshore accounts.

No civilian prime minister in Pakistan has ever completed a full term in office. Friday’s ruling marked the first time in the country’s history that a leader was disqualified from office following a judicial process.

The 68-year-old leader has been at the helm of Pakistan’s turbulent politics for more than three decades.

‘Lion of Punjab’

Under Sharif, Pakistan has experienced economic growth and a marked drop in terrorism. The government also has initiated a bold foreign policy that led to strong ties with China and the formation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Known as the “Lion of Punjab,” Sharif is one of Pakistan’s leading industrialists and richest men as well as a fearsome political operative – having been Prime Minister twice before.

But his long political career has been dogged with missteps and allegations of corruption. He was forced to step down during his first term as Prime Minister after a family-owned business, Ittefaq Industries, grew tremendously while he was in office.

Sharif was re-elected in 1997 and ordered Pakistan’s first nuclear tests, but a showdown with the nation’s powerful military saw his second term end prematurely as well.

Sharif, left, with Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz, center, and Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

In 1999, Sharif fired then-army head Pervez Musharraf after a failed invasion of Kargil in Indian-controlled Kashmir. But in a dramatic turnaround, Musharraf launched a coup and eventually had his former boss imprisoned on charges of hijacking for attempting to stop a plane carrying the general from landing.

Sharif was later sentenced to an additional 14 years in prison on corruption charges, but he was released after six months when Saudi Arabia brokered a deal to allow him to go into exile there.

In 2007, Sharif returned to his homeland after his PML-N party teamed up with the Pakistan Peoples Party, or PPP, to force Musharraf out of office.

After some legal and constitutional wrangling, Sharif was re-elected Prime Minister for a third time in 2013 despite accusations of vote-rigging.

CNN’s Sophia Saifi reported from Islamabad and CNN’s Steve Almasy wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Euan McKirdy and Chandrika Narayan contributed to this report.