ISLAMABAD - Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in consultation with the select party leaders, decided to bring in senior vice-president of PML-N from Balochistan Senator Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir as acting president of the party.

The slot of party president fell vacant after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister of Pakistan, who was also holding position of PML-N president as well. The decision would be tabled before the Central Working Committee of the party for getting its formal approval.

The CWC meeting was already called for today (Thursday) at the Punjab House Islamabad where the name of Sardar Yaqoob Nasir would be placed before the members for his elevation as Acting President of the party.

A party parliamentarian said that the decision to elevate Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir as acting president of the party was made to fulfil the constitutional and legal requirement as the party president was required to issue party tickets to candidates for contesting elections. He said that as the last date for withdrawal of nomination papers on NA 120 by-elections is August 25 so by that date the party head would be required to issue party ticket to PML-N candidate Begum Kalsoom Nawaz to secure party symbol ‘tiger’ for contesting elections.

Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir got elected on the Senate seat in 2015 after Iqbal Zafar Jhagra become Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Following the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister on July 28, Election Commission of Pakistan had directed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on August 7 to elect a new party chief as under the Political Parties Order 2002 a person not eligible to become the member of the Parliament could not hold any party office as well.

Sources in the ruling PML-N said that the party top hierarchy was engaged in consultation over bringing a permanent party head for which the Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif is a very strong contender. But as the deliberations were in progress and on the other hand the party was constrained by the legal and constitutional requirements to have a party chief for getting party symbol of ‘tiger’ for Begum Kalsoom Nawaz for contesting by-elections from NA 120, so they have to bring in someone to fill the slot.

A few days back while talking to media, PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq said that a decision to elect Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif as the party president had already been taken.

But the matter was put in limbo as his name was also announced as the party candidate for NA-120 by-polls so that he could come and serve rest of the term as Prime Minister but later the decision was changed owing to keep the strong hold on party’s affairs in Punjab by Shahbaz Sharif.

Insiders in the party said that a new debate was initiated in the party and a divergent view of bringing someone else to head the party instead of Shahbaz Sharif led to the delay in the decision.

The sources said that as Shahbaz Sharif was also in the list of persons who could be hit by the NAB cases particularly in case of reopening of Hudaiybia Paper Mills case, so it was decided to hold back his name even for the slot of party’s president.

According to media reports Railways Minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq told reporters after a party meeting on August 15: “We did discuss all available options for a new party chief but could not arrive at a decision ... we decided to hold huddles for a couple of more days keeping in view various legal and political sensitivities involved with the issue."

A party source said that the name of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz was also under consideration for the party’s president.

Party officials said that senior vice-President of the party Sardar Yaqoob Khan Nasir was all weather friend of former premier Nawaz Sharif and was associated with the party since 1985. He had served as federal minister in Nawaz Sharif cabinet from 1990-93 and again in 1997.

He also remained provincial minister and member of Upper House of the Parliament.