News Analysis |
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) became a headless party after the disqualification of former premier Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court (SC) as the party head of PML-N in its verdict on the Elections Act 2017 case on Wednesday. All decisions made by former head Nawaz Sharif became null and void which include his reconstitution of the Central Working Committee (CWC) and the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of his party.
According to the rules of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), a party has to nominate its acting president within 7 days if the former president has resigned or been disqualified and a permanent president within 30 days. The constitution of the PML-N grants the right to elect the president to the CEC and since the PML-N currently has no CEC; they would have to conduct intra party elections within seven days.
Political analysts believe that Kulsoom will be made the head of the party even though she will still out of the country. Nawaz would make all decisions on her behalf while she is away and maintain his old grip on power.
ECP did not allow the chairman of PML-N, Raja Zafarul Haq, to endorse the decisions made by the former president Nawaz Sharif, including the Senate nominations of PML-N candidates. Haq also asserted that he can head the CWC in the absence of the party president but his claim was denied by the ECP, stating that only the party president can do so. The chairman cannot endorse or overwrite the decisions made by the party president.
Once the predicament of constituting a CEC resolves, the PML-N will face an even bigger predicament of electing a party head. The former premier Nawaz Sharif is considered to be the most popular living politician in Pakistan by all media and political groups so the next party chief would have big boots to fill. The other question is that who would Nawaz trust enough to hand over the reins of the party so that he could himself act as the de-facto party chief.
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A number of PML-N leaders including Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah, federal interior minister Ahsan Iqbal and Maryam Nawaz have reiterated that irrespective of the SC decision, Nawaz would still be the true party leader of PML-N. The influence of Nawaz would undoubtedly remain even if he’s not the president as he is the founder of the party and the party itself is named after him but his decision making power would seriously be jeopardized if another senior member becomes the party head.
Kulsoom fought on the NA-120 seat vacated by Nawaz Sharif and won the election for the party. On the other hand, Kulsoom has been seriously ill and under treatment in the UK. Her sudden appearance in the political scenario would raise questions about the gravity of her illness.
The most natural choice for the party president would be the chief minister of Punjab, Mian Shehbaz Sharif. Being the brother of the former premier, he has the most natural claim on the throne and media reports suggest that he is favored by the establishment to become the next president. Shehbaz is also a veteran politician and has stood side by side with his brother through thick and thin, it is about time that he reaps the fruits of his struggle.
Sources from inside the PML-N hinted that Shehbaz Sharif has the approval of the senior party leadership and former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar also iterated that he will accept the leadership of Shehbaz but not a junior like Maryam Nawaz. The issue with Shehbaz’s presidency is that Nawaz’s grip on the party would loosen as Shehbaz will work on his own agendas. Contrary to Nawaz’s policy of confronting the judiciary, Shehbaz believes in harmony of state institutions and has never passed any anti-judiciary statement.
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If Nawaz cannot trust Shehbaz then it only leaves one option for him, that is, to make his wife Kulsoom Nawaz the president and stay as the de facto party head. Media reports have emerged regarding the confirmation of Kulsoom Nawaz’s presidency but no official announcement has been made. The wife of the former premier came to his rescue on another occasion when Nawaz was disqualified by the SC of Pakistan as a member of the parliament in its 28th July verdict.
Kulsoom fought on the NA-120 seat vacated by Nawaz Sharif and won the election for the party. On the other hand, Kulsoom has been seriously ill and under treatment in the UK. Her sudden appearance in the political scenario would raise questions about the gravity of her illness. Political analysts believe that Kulsoom will be made the head of the party even though she will still out of the country. Nawaz would make all decisions on her behalf while she is away and maintain his old grip on power.