The nephew of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been given overwhelming powers to run the administrative affairs of Pakistan's most populous province of Punjab.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of the premier, on Wednesday issued a notification regarding the formation of a six-member Public Affairs Committee headed by his son Hamza Shahbaz, who will act as "deputy chief minister".
Sources said Shahbaz Sharif had handed over all administrative powers to 39-year-old Hamza to run the affairs of the province of 90 million people. Punjab is the traditional stronghold of the Sharifs' Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party and Hamza is a member of the National Assembly.
According to the notification, Hamza has been authorised to improve law and order in Punjab and empowered to issue instructions to district administrations for development projects. He will also liaise with PML-N parliamentarians to help resolve their problems.
"Hamza will also resolve differences between public representatives and the government officers. He will help provide basic facilities to ordinary citizens and give his recommendations on summaries forwarded by provincial departments in the chief minister house," the notification said.
It added, "Hamza will mobilise relevant departments, elected members, civil society and government resources in the wake of natural calamities and other emergencies." Hamza has also been authorised to hold meetings at the chief minister's secretariat.
Copies of the notification were sent to the chief secretary, Punjab police chief, provincial secretaries, regional police chiefs and district administration chiefs, who were asked them to comply with Hamza's orders.
Hamza frequently uses the chief minister's helicopter for political tours across Punjab. Opposition parties have chided the Sharifs for concentrating power within their family.