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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Does Shehbaz Sharif no longer represent Nawaz Sharif?

Maryam Nawaz has said that “no representative of Nawaz met the army leadership”. However, Shehbaz Sharif confirmed yesterday his meeting with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa ahead of the APC. Is it parting of ways?

Maryam Nawaz, Vice President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and daughter of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on Wednesday said that “no representative of Nawaz met the army leadership”. She was speaking to media outside the Islamabad High Court (IHC). A journalist had asked her if Nawaz’s representative met the Army Chief before the All Parties Conference (APC).

Maryam Nawaz also maintained that no political leader should meet the military leadership to discuss political matters. “Every political matter should be discussed in Parliament. There is no need to meet any military leader,” she added.

However, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and Opposition Leader in National Assembly (NA) Shehbaz Sharif confirmed yesterday that he had held a meeting with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa ahead of the APC.

Analysts are mulling over an intriguing question: is Shehbaz Sharif not a representative of Nawaz Sharif? There are already some rumors about the friction within the former ruling party after Nawaz and Maryam suddenly broke the ice and took a strong position against the establishment. Shehbaz, sources say, does not approve of this position.

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However, when Gharida Farooqi, a prominent Pakistani journalist, raised the same question, Maryam Nawaz warned her not “to act smart and play nasty”. She said that she had given a principled statement in line with the laws of the party. She added she wasn’t talking about any party member in her statement.

Shehbaz met top military leadership

Geo News had reported on Monday that COAS General Bajwa and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence Chief Faiz Hameed met the parliamentary leadership in Islamabad days before an opposition-led All Parties Conference (APC) castigated the present government over a host of issues.

During the press talk about holding APC, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had said that “the constitution of Pakistan does not allow us to consult the armed forces on political matters so we won’t consult them”. However, Shehbaz Sharif immediately added that “we can consult them on the matters related to security”.

Shehbaz’s political future

Reliable sources told GVS that Shehbaz and Maryam have always had different views to lead the party. Before Nawaz was disqualified and barred from heading the party, Shehbaz was entitled to deal with Punjab. However, after Nawaz was not at good terms with the establishment, Shehbaz took the charge and led the party.

However, Maryam was leading a segment of the party with the slogan of ‘vote ko izat do.’ She slammed the establishment for political engineering and getting favorable verdicts from courts. Later on, Shehbaz’s approach appeared to have prevailed as the party tried to avoid confrontational politics and Maryam went silent.

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From the past several days, there are some media reports and public perception that the PML-N is not on the same page. Nawaz’s anti-establishment speech during the APC and his insistence to have an inquiry commission to probe into allegations leveled against Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa has once again created some doubts about the future of PML-N’s top leadership.

Some sources claim that the settlement that took place to let Nawaz leave for London has apparently been compromised. NAB is expected to expedite its activities against the PML-N leaders. Some sources also claim that Maryam Nawaz is unlikely to seek any relief from the NAB or the courts in the coming days.