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End of the road for Nawaz?

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News Analysis |

Former premier and now former chief of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was disqualified once again by the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Wednesday, this time as the party head of PML-N. Nawaz Sharif had started a crusade against the superior judiciary after the 28th July Panama Papers case verdict which disqualified him as the prime minister of Pakistan. Initially, the tirade against SC appeared to have been working in the favor of Nawaz.

The SC’s decision to review the disqualification period under Article 62(1)(f) and PML-N’s victory in the Lodhran by-elections were considered to be the effects of Nawaz Sharif’s public rallies against the judiciary. Sharif had repeatedly iterated that the SC was prejudiced against him, and not a single rupee of corruption had been proven against him. The former premier claimed that public support for him even after disqualification was proof that the public had rejected the SC’s decision.

They are expected to jump from the sinking ship of Nawaz and join Shehbaz’s camp within the PML-N. Any favorite candidate nominated by Nawaz is unlikely to receive the assent of the remaining party leadership.

The political head of a party has huge control on all the members of the party including the parliamentarians under Article 63-A of the Constitution. Nawaz’s party headship was also canceled pertaining to this article since a person who is not qualified to become the prime minister cannot control the decisions of the parliamentarians. The question that is on everyone’s mind is that what will be Nawaz Sharif’s future after the disqualification?

Senior political analyst Tahir Malik told GVS that Nawaz Sharif will no longer be a part of electoral politics since he cannot become a candidate and he is no longer the party head. However, he still has a huge vote bank on the grass root level so he will guide PML-N from the shadows. He also told that the moral posture of Nawaz Sharif will be important in the future as the urban middle class prefers the rule of law and if Nawaz keeps on playing the victim card, he will lose face in the general public.

Read more: Nawaz Sharif takes a jab at Imran Khan and PTI

A number of political experts are of the opinion that politics is not based on loyalty and attachment but merely on interests. Nawaz Sharif, in his current disqualified state, is of no use to his party PML-N. Rather than being of use, Sharif is actually a burden that the whole party has to carry. 2 PML-N leaders, Tallal Chaudhry and Daniyal Aziz, have already been issued contempt notices and third PML-N leader, Nehal Hashmi, has been disqualified under contempt of court in Sharif’s battle against the judiciary.

How many more political causalities will it take for PML-N to decide that Nawaz Sharif is a lost cause? Most news analysts believe that the number is not big. It is unlikely that PML-N will challenge the judiciary in the parliament any further and attempt to make any amendments that would threaten their political future. PML-N is expected to appoint a new chief of the party but there are only a handful of people that Nawaz can actually trust to listen to him.

Kulsoom Nawaz being sick is unlikely to be chosen as the head. That only leaves the option of Shehbaz Sharif. Secondary power centers in the PML-N would have realized by now that Nawaz Sharif is not the power house that he once was and even after extensive efforts.

Nawaz, being the face of PML-N for the past three decades, is one of the biggest political names in Pakistan. He will draw out the votes for PML-N in the 2018 elections so it’s important for the party to stand behind him, even if it’s for show, to stay popular among the public. Shehbaz Sharif, being the brother of Nawaz and his political companion since the start of PML-N, is his most natural successor but he is too big of a political heavy weight himself to take dictation from his elder brother.

If Shehbaz becomes the chief of PML-N, he is expected to listen to some decisions of his big brother but also apply his own policies so Nawaz will no longer remain the de facto chief of the party. The other possible choice is to make Maryam Nawaz the party head. Nawaz will have more control on her since she’s his daughter but the control will not be absolute since Maryam being a younger leader will have her own ambitions in the party.

Read more: Nawaz Sharif disqualified once again!

The best possible choice that remains for Nawaz is to make his wife Kulsoom Nawaz the party head but according to PML-N, Kulsoom is suffering from a serious illness and is under treatment in the UK. Her sudden appearance in the political scenario would raise a number of suspicions that she was not actually ill and her sickness was being used as a scapegoat by Nawaz to flee. Nonetheless, Kulsoom is the only option for Nawaz to maintain his old grip on the party.

Nawaz’s party headship was also canceled pertaining to this article since a person who is not qualified to become the prime minister cannot control the decisions of the parliamentarians.

The disqualification of Nawaz has also put the political career of Maryam Nawaz under threat. She has not contested in a single election in her political career and the senior political leadership does not want to see her on the top as iterated by PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar that he would never to accept a junior as the party chief. A graft case is also under way against Maryam Nawaz which makes her a very unstable party head.

Kulsoom Nawaz being sick is unlikely to be chosen as the head. That only leaves the option of Shehbaz Sharif. Secondary power centers in the PML-N would have realized by now that Nawaz Sharif is not the power house that he once was and even after extensive efforts, he has failed to intimidate the judiciary. They are expected to jump from the sinking ship of Nawaz and join Shehbaz’s camp within the PML-N. Any favorite candidate nominated by Nawaz is unlikely to receive the assent of the remaining party leadership.


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