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Beijing termed Nawaz Sharif's disqualification from public office as an "internal affair of Pakistan" and said that it will not impact China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership involving 'One Belt, One Road (OBOR)' initiative, that includes China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as its "flagship" project.
Reacting to the political changes in Pakistan, arising due to the Supreme Court verdict in the Panama Papers case, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said during a press briefing, "We believe that the China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership will not be affected by the change of the situation inside Pakistan. China stands ready to work with Pakistan to continue jointly building the [One] Belt and [One] Road."
China expressed hope that various parties and sections in Pakistan could "prioritise state and national interests, properly deal with their domestic affairs, maintain unity and stability, and keep focusing on the economic and social development."
Nawaz Sharif resigned from the Prime Minister's office, roughly one year before the scheduled general elections. It is the second time in Pakistan's 70-year history that the Supreme Court has disqualified a sitting prime minister. In 2012 then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was disqualified over contempt of court charges for refusing to reopen a corruption case against the sitting president Asif Ali Zardari.
Speculation is rife, however, that Nawaz has suggested his brother and Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif be the party's contender for the post.
The appointment came after a high-level PML-N meeting, the Geo News reported. Shehbaz will steer the country until the next general elections scheduled for 2018.