Nawaz Sharif is finally, definitively out of politics. There are no more appeals, no more routes back – at least for the foreseeable future. On Friday, the Supreme Court dismissed the review petitions not only of the former Prime Minister but also of his children, as well as Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. He will be in and around the courts a lot in the foreseeable future, but none of those will be pleasant visits – be may be sanctioned for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for corruption, but no scenario sees him back in power. For Nawaz it’s all downhill from here.

This decision also introduces a very new phase in the politics of Pakistan Muslim League -Nawaz (PML-N). Nawaz Sharif is the face of PML-N and the ideology that the party represents. His name suffixes the party name; it is his presence that legitimizes the presence of the party in the political system. The party now needs to find someone who can run without him being at helm of affairs.

Though that task sounds enormous, it is not particularly difficult in reality – in fact this is exactly what the party has done since the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif; Shahid Khaqqan has taken over as Prime Minister and the party as well as the government has continued to tick like before. The real question here is will Nawaz be satisfied with his new, reduced role? Will he be content ruling from the backseat or will he continue his futile crusade against the Supreme court and try to fight his way back to the premiership?

It seems he has no option but to be content. His disqualification is final; the only legal option that he has left right now is to challenge the period of his disqualification, since the SC is yet to decide the duration because of a pending case which is precisely about the particular matter. Even if he gets a favourable decision – it is no guarantee that he will – he remains disqualified at least for the next term if not more.

Even if Nawaz Sharif makes his way back into the government at some point PML-N cannot wait; either way someone will be replacing the former prime minister as party chairman and the face of the party. Perhaps it is time that Nawaz pass the baton – be it to his brother or to his daughter.