News Analysis |
The seat of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Punjab President has become vacant, as the former Punjab president, Shehbaz Sharif, has ascended to the office of the interim president of the party on Tuesday. It is believed that none of the heirs of the Sharif family will inherit the vacated post. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told Dawn that the Punjab president will likely be from North or South Punjab as the President and Quaid offices are already from Lahore.
He also said that there were no deliberations on it and the posts of other office bearers will be filled after the election of the full time party president by the general council next month. It means that Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz are unlikely to be selected for the coveted post of Punjab president. Other sources suggest that Maryam is not interested in becoming the Punjab president but would look forward to the Punjab chief minister slot.
Maryam is trying to create her own vote bank and trying to become a power center herself by holding a huge number of public rallies and starting a social media campaign for the PML-N.
It is also speculated that the Punjab president would become a ceremonial position in the presence of the parliamentary board as it would virtually have no powers. The fact that PML-N has not considered any members of the Sharif family for the Punjab president position seems to show a change of structure within the party. PML-N has been ruled by the Sharif family since its inception: Shehbaz in Punjab and Nawaz at the center.
The names of any other candidates were never considered to hand over power in the presence of the Sharif family. Other party leaders were only elected as presidents at the center or in Punjab during the Sharif family’s exile. The statement by Rana Sanaullah shows a change of party policy since the PML-N never had an issue with having two office bearers from Punjab. The change is attributed to Shehbaz Sharif’s party presidency.
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Political experts believe that rifts have existed between the PML-N lines for years and some senior party leaders had grievances with the Sharif family for not being granted any senior party posts. The rifts grew deeper when Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court (SC) in its 28th July verdict. The party was divided among those that wanted to see Shehbaz Sharif as the chief and those who wanted to bring back Nawaz and eventually make Maryam Nawaz the chief.
A rise of democracy within the PML-N can also be seen as previously the party centered around the Sharif family but now other power centers are also on the rise as had been speculated by the media.
Some media reports suggested that Nawaz didn’t want to make Shehbaz the chief as it would forever put Maryam Nawaz on the backend and take away any hopes of her becoming the next prime minister or party chief. Senior leaders like Chaudhry Nisar also openly opposed her succession as the party chief since she was a junior and lacked the experience of running a country or a party. Party’s opposition to both Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz shows that an act of balancing out is taking place.
A rise of democracy within the PML-N can also be seen as previously the party centered around the Sharif family but now other power centers are also on the rise as had been speculated by the media. Shehbaz is unlikely to enjoy the same grip on power as his brother did since he doesn’t enjoy the same level of popularity in the public. The future of Maryam Nawaz is insecure as her father is no longer an office bearer in the party.
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Maryam is trying to create her own vote bank and trying to become a power center herself by holding a huge number of public rallies and starting a social media campaign for the PML-N. She has been the face of the party for the past many months, standing shoulder to shoulder with her father in their battle against the judiciary. Political experts believe that Maryam would have to create her own space in the senior leadership as it is harder for her father to secure a position for her.
On the other hand, Hamza has been completely absent from national and provincial politics. He has not made many public appearances or held many rallies, which make his chances to hold any office in the party very thin. His father’s rise within the PML-N might also see his revival in party politics but it is believed that he has a long way to go compared to his cousin, Maryam, to rise within the national and provincial politics.