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The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) has decided to field the incumbent Chief Minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif as the candidate for the premiership in the 2018 elections, should the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif remains disqualified. This was decided in the party huddle in London on Tuesday under the leadership of the elder Sharif. The moot was attended by Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and federal ministers Ishaq Dar, Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal.

Read more: London Plan: PML-N rejects minus Nawaz formula…

This decision comes at a time when the pressure and legal troubles are mounting for the Sharif family. This also comes in the midst of increasing voices of in-fighting within the PML-N and the Sharif family. Watchers’ assertion that the PML-N is now divided into the Shahbaz (dove) and Nawaz (hawk) camps, has been refuted by the PML-N time and again with the party categorically vowing not to accept any minus-Nawaz formula.

However, PML-N sources say that the decision has been made because the party feels that the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif is unlikely to be overturned. Legal experts believe that ever since the indictment of the 67-year old Nawaz, legal options are shrinking; political options are dangerous and can lead to trouble for the party and the country.

The political options are risky and something that the so-called Shahbaz group does not agree with.

While choosing Shahbaz as the party candidate for the slot of prime minister, Nawaz, according to sources, agreed not to take on a confrontational role. He directed Shahbaz Sharif and PM Abbasi to improve ties with the institutions of the state. The beleaguered Sharif also decided that only the Sharif brothers will give statements on party’s policy matters.

Read more: Nawaz Sharif – The unacceptable face of…

ARY News also quoted sources saying that Shahbaz Sharif will run for the National Assembly in next year’s general elections. News of rifts in the family and the party have flooded the media since the indictment of Nawaz Sharif. Last month, the federal minister, Riaz Pirzada called upon Shahbaz to arrest the decay of the party by taking it over. A day after, a group of lawmakers of the PML-N from Punjab made a similar demand while asserting that Nawaz’s style of politics will be ruinous for the party and the country.

Maryam Nawaz said that the family had given her a lead role in the party. 

Maryam Nawaz, the indicted daughter of Nawaz Sharif, whose meteoric rise up the ladder has drawn a lot of speculations about infighting, added to the suspicions with her recent interview with the New York Times. She said that the family had given her a lead role in the party. The 44-year old Maryam has lately, according to observers, sidelined her cousin and lawmaker, Hamza Shahbaz. Hamza, 44, has remained dormant; after detaching himself from the NA-120 campaign, he briefly stayed in London and upon his arrival stressed the need to avoid a tussle with state organs.

A group of lawmakers of the PML-N from Punjab made a similar demand while asserting that Nawaz’s style of politics will be ruinous for the party and the country.

Maryam brushed aside rumors of tiffs with Hamza, calling him a dear brother. Pundits see interesting times ahead. They still feel that there are rifts within the party. Shahbaz’s measured approach is starkly in contrast to the confrontational style adopted by Nawaz. The ousted lawmaker is still pretty confident of wriggling out of the muck.

Read more: Nawaz & lieutenants discuss ‘future’; Where: London?

However, a closer observation of the tightening circle around Nawaz suggests that the family will find it tough to fight legally. The political options are risky and something that the so-called Shahbaz group does not agree with. How will the PML-N balance off its desire to reinstate Nawaz with the apparent need for stability? The answer to this question will impinge upon the political scaffold of the country in the days to come.

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