PPP 'withdraws support for Shehbaz Sharif as PM candidate'

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Islamabad : The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday withdrew support for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif's candidature for the post of Prime Minister, the media reported.

Sharif was nominated as the prime ministerial candidate of the joint opposition which included the PML-N, PPP, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and Awami National Party (ANP).

The decision was taken during a consultative meeting of the PPP and the party was deliberating on whether it will take part in the election. The meeting was chaired by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Geo News reported citing sources.

The National Assembly will elect the country's next Prime Minister on Friday. Earlier, nomination papers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and PML-N President Sharif were accepted.

Speaking to reporters prior to the PPP meeting, Khursheed Shah said his party had reservations over Shehbaz Sharif being the candidate for Prime Minister. Shah stressed that if the PML-N does not change its candidate then the PPP will make a decision accordingly.

PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique claimed that the PPP backtracked on former President Asif Ali Zardari's orders.

With the loss of the PPP (54 seats), Shehbaz Sharif will now face an almost impossible task to be elected as Prime Minister. The PML-N has 82 seats in the National Assembly and it was unclear if the party will still be supported by the MMA (15 seats) and ANP (1 seat).

On the other hand, Khan's PTI has 158 seats and with the support of its allies, the total stands at 175 which was more than the required simple majority, Geo reported.