News Desk |
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), former ruling party, is facing several challenges these days. In the latest development, frictions within the party became public when former federal minster and secretary general of the PML-N, Ahsan Iqbal, decided not to join a rally led by Maryam Nawaz, the newly appointed vice president of PML-N.
Sources claim that the Narowal group led by Ahsan Iqbal did not attend the party which gathered at Zafarwal organized by MNA Mehnaz Aziz, wife of stalwart Daniyal Aziz. Reports suggest Ahsan Iqbal’s son and his cousin, who were elected from Narowal, ignored the public gathering and even stopped its supporters from attending the rally.
Sources also claim that the opposition leader in Punjab assembly also did not speak much, nor was he invited to comment during the meetings between PPP and PML-N leadership.
Sources in PML-N further claim that the party is facing rifts on several grounds. Shahbaz Sharif, PML-N president, and Maryam Nawaz have altogether a different approach to deal with the ongoing political uncertainty. In the past, Shahbaz was seen as someone who believed in dialogue and decided not to confront the country’s powerful establishment openly. On the other hand, Maryam Nawaz has been critical of the government very publicly and even hinted many times towards launching an anti-establishment campaign in the future.
Similarly, there is disagreement within the party as to who will lead the PML-N? Maryam Nawaz desires to be in the center and wants Shahbaz and Hamza to stay in Punjab. Reliable sources claim that now Hamza, unlike his father, is determined to become a part of the national politics. Hamza is leading a group in Punjab which includes senior leaders like Malik Muhammad Ahmed.
In recent public gatherings like the Iftar-dinner at Zardari House in Islamabad, indicated that Hamza was not happy to be treated as someone who does not have much influence in the party. A political analyst commented how “Hamza looked upset and unhappy during the meetings.” Sources also claim that the opposition leader in Punjab assembly also did not speak much, nor was he invited to comment during the meetings between PPP and PML-N leadership.
It is worth noting that the PML-N has been facing a crisis of leadership in Sindh, especially in Karachi, because of powerful intra-party groups led by party stalwarts in the province — Shah Muhammad, Nihal Hashmi, and Saleem Zia.
In the past, it has been seen that Nisar Ali Khan, Sharif’s loyalists who has not parted ways with PML-N, was asked to work under the leadership of Maryam Nawaz. Ch. Nawaz publically conveyed to the Sharifs that “Nawaz Sharif is my leader and I am willing to work under him. I have serious political credential and cannot work under the leadership of kids.” Since the Maryam-led group comprised of Pervez Rashid, former information minister, who had to go home after his role was established in the notorious Dawn leaks, was powerful enough to influence Nawaz, therefore Nisar was soon sidelined.
Khawaja Saad Rafique was quoted saying “the time has come when we have to decide whether we want our future or not.”
PML-N has always rejected such reports and maintained that the party was united under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif. However, Nawaz’s arrest created serious challenges for the party to keep it united and at the same time on several key issues pertaining to civil military relations.
As a matter of fact, the Khawaja brothers, Khawaja Saad and Salman Rafique, who have been in the custody of NAB, recently expressed anger and demanded the party to take a tough stance over the ongoing situation. Khawaja Saad Rafique was quoted saying “the time has come when we have to decide whether we want our future or not.”
Political commentators believe, now that Asif Ali Zardari and Hamza Shahbaz have been arrested, it is yet to see how both mainstream political parties react and move forward. There are also some reports which suggest that the party may prefer to go with the narrative carried out by Shahbaz Sharif and seek a deal with the establishment.