Islamabad/Lahore: Pakistan`s Prime Minister-elect Nawaz Sharif may retain the crucial foreign affairs portfolio with himself despite intense lobbying within the PML-N party for the plum post, sources said on Thursday.
Sharif, who is set for an unprecedented third term as premier after the PML-N won the May 11 general elections, may appoint an adviser to assist him in handling foreign affairs, said party insiders.
Former Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz, 84, is currently considered a frontrunner for the post of adviser.
"Sartaj Aziz has been present at almost all important meetings Mr Sharif held with foreign diplomats since the party`s victory in the polls. Other senior PML-N leaders were not present at these meetings," one party insider said.
Two former diplomats – Tariq Fatemi, who very briefly served as Ambassador to the US in 1999, and Shamshad Ahmad Khan, who was Foreign Secretary during 1997-2000 – are also in the race for the post of adviser, sources said.
Some sources said Aziz`s advanced age could go against him and one party insider said Aziz had shown an interest in becoming President after Asif Ali Zardari completes his term in September.
Over the past few days, there has been intense lobbying within the PML-N for the post of Foreign Minister.
Senior PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who is considered close to the military establishment and was Leader of Opposition in the last National Assembly, had indicated his interest in the slot, sources said.
However, others within the PML-N were opposed to Khan being allocated the important position, the sources said.
Khan had even successfully contested polls to the Punjab Assembly in the hope of becoming Chief Minister of the province but the PML-N has now decided to retain Shahbaz Sharif in that slot, party leaders said.