ISLAMABAD - Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has invited all the political forces to devise the way forward and find a solution to the problem of premature ouster of the elected prime ministers.

He was addressing the parliamentary party meeting, which approved the name of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to be the next PML-N candidate for premiership amid an emotionally-charged atmosphere.

According to the plan adopted yesterday, till the time Shehbaz gets elected as member of the National Assembly, party loyalist and former federal minister for petroleum and natural resources, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, will hold the office of prime minister.

Shehbaz will contest by-election as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz candidate in NA-120 constituency, on the seat that has fallen vacant due to the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif.

The name of Provincial Excise and Taxation Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman to fill the position of Punjab chief minister, after Shehbaz moves to National Assembly, was also considered, but no final decision was taken in this regard.

It was further decided in the parliamentary party meeting that the PML-N would file review petition against the Panama Papers verdict and list their concerns, and legal “anomalies” they saw in the judgment.

The legal team was already tasked to prepare the review petition, which would be filed in the apex court in the next few days most probably during the next week.

Nawaz Sharif himself proposed the name of his brother Shehbaz for the slot of prime minister and later the name of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for the stopgap arrangement.

Both the decisions were supported with voice vote amid massive applause by the participants, which continued for a few minutes.

As he announced his successor, some of the MPs including a few women shouted that they won’t let Nawaz Sharif leave them and he would remain their prime minister and no one else could take the place they have for him in their hearts.

The parliamentarians even raised slogans of ‘Wazir-i-Azam Nawaz Sharif’ and refused to accept anyone else stepping in his shoes, even his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif - who was also present in the meeting and seemed quite tense.

Though Nawaz turned gloomy, he calmed them down by saying that he would not leave them and would remain with them, and he would also be visiting their constituencies.

He said that the journey which he started with them to take the country to the road to progress and prosperity would continue and he would selflessly remain with them without any desire or wish for any position.

Nawaz Sharif thanked the members for reposing confidence in him and sought pledge from all the MPs present that they would continue working for the mission of transforming Pakistan into an economically-vibrant state.

In his address at Punjab House, Nawaz Sharif once again invited the political forces in the country to sit together and devise the way forward as, according to him, the country could not be run in a casual way where not even a single elected prime minister had completed his mandated five-year term.

The former prime minister said the country could not afford such political miscarriages, which God forbid could become fatal for its solidarity.

Nawaz Sharif further said that he could give any sacrifice for the country and could spend rest of his life for this mission of giving some mechanism to the country where such “extra-constitutional” dislodging of the political dispensation could be effectively checked - and for which he was ready to work with all the political forces in the country.

He said the country could not be run in such a way and if it continued for long, it could face some untoward situation.

“I am saying this from the core of my heart. I am thinking beyond my own interests. I am concerned about Pakistan, not about myself,” the former prime minister said.

Claiming that his disqualification was carried out on “trivial and baseless” grounds, Nawaz Sharif proudly said there was not a charge of even a single penny of corruption on him throughout his political career spanning over three decades.

Nawaz Sharif said one day the people would come to know as to why their prime minister was disqualified.

“I am proud that I was not disqualified on charges of corruption, embezzlement of public money or taking kickbacks,” he said.

On many an occasion, he turned emotional during his address and explained that why he was compelled to take Iqama (residence visa).

Nawaz Sharif said he was just a ceremonial head of his son’s company and he never drew any salary. He said he accepted the post merely to avoid visa glitches for frequent travel to the UK.

The deposed premier took pledge from his party MPs that they would stand by him in transforming the country into an economic giant and would not let the country’s march on the road to progress and prosperity rollback.

Terming himself an ideologue, Nawaz Sharif said he had never compromised on principles and had suffered for it in the past in the shape of dislodging of his governments in unconstitutional fashion.

Terming the grounds taken by the apex court “flimsy and baseless”, the former prime minister said that time would define its fate in the days to come, quickly adding that he and his party would strictly stand by the rule of law and constitution.

He said that the Sharif family endured accountability during the last three generations, commencing from 1972 - even before he joined politics. He questioned why Sharif family was singled out to be held accountable.

Regarding the suggestions, that Nawaz Sharif should have resigned earlier, he said he could have done so if he had committed any wrong.

Recalling toppling of his government by Pervez Musharraf in 1999, he said, “On one day I was the prime minister, while the very next day I was declared a hijacker.”

“In the [plane hijacking] case, I was also awarded sentence of 27 years imprisonment, and sentenced seven years in prison in the helicopter case,” he added.

He said that the days of forced exile was a tough time for him and his family.

Nawaz Sharif told the meeting that he was a regular taxpayer, giving even more than others.

In an apparent reference to the PTI, he said unfortunately the Dharna-I, Dharna-II, Islamabad lockdown and Panama Papers had wasted a lot of country’s time.

The former prime minister said he had made the defence of the country impregnable. Such an attitude towards a thrice-elected prime minister was regrettable.

“The history will adjudge whether it (his dethronement) was in Pakistan’s interest or against it,” he remarked.

Nawaz claimed he had turned down the offer of $5 billion by the US president for not conducting nuclear tests.

He said that the Chinese investment worth $56 billion under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was unprecedented.

Nawaz Sharif told the audience that Chinese President Xi Jinping had addressed him saying: “Mr prime minister, this is a gift for you from China.”

He said he wanted to take all political forces onboard for the progress, prosperity and development of the country as one party could not steer the country out of crisis alone.

Nawaz Sharif said it was unfortunate that no prime minister in the country had completed the constitutional tenure.

Talking about his government’s policies, he said that he had taken solid steps for economic development of the country.

He said he had adopted a policy to improve relations with neighbours.

He said that he had faced several political challenges and protests by political opponents including sit-ins against his government in Islamabad.

The former prime minister said his government had launched operations against terrorists but pointed out that protests by the opposition had also affected anti-terror campaign.

He said that his government was focused on the development of backward areas, especially Balochistan province.

Nawaz Sharif said that he accepted the mandate of the opposition parties in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces.

He supported across the board accountability and said that accountability should not be limited to one family.

Nawaz Sharif also called for political reconciliation in the country and said political polarisation was not in the interest of the country.

Earlier, a marathon session of senior party leaders was held in the Prime Minister’s House to finalise the future setup including the finalisation of names of party candidate for prime minister and the person who would hold the office in the stopgap arrangement as it would take 45 to 50 days time for Shehbaz Sharif’s election to the slot of MNA. After the election of Shehbaz Sharif as MNA, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi would pave the way for his election as the prime minister.

As the party enjoys majority in the National Assembly and with the support of the coalition partners, the ruling PML-N’s strength would cross two-third majority, so getting Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and later Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister would not be an issue.

Sources in the party said that the composition of the federal cabinet would more or less remain the same as it was under Nawaz Sharif.

But a few changes would be expected as the former interior minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan would unlikely be part of the cabinet during the stopgap arrangement, while minor changes in the portfolios of the other ministers is expected.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was born in 1958 in Karachi. His father Air Commodore (r) Khaqan Abbasi was elected in 1985 general elections held on a non-party basis and served as federal minister for industries and production.

After his death, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi contested elections from Murree in 1988 elections and won the seat with a wide margin.

Since then, he has returned victorious from the area six times and he had just only once lost the seat to a PPP candidate in 2002.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was holding the portfolio of Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources before the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister.

After the 2008 general elections, he briefly held the portfolio of minister for commerce and minister of defence production in Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani’s cabinet. In 1997 during the government of Nawaz Sharif he served as chairman of PIA.

He held various parliamentary positions in the earlier governments of the PML-N. The former minister is an electrical engineer by profession and has a master’s degree in engineering from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California in 1985. He had his early education from Lawrence College Murree, while for a brief period he remained in Karachi during primary school years.