Maryam the real beneficiary of the situation
Whatever the outcome of the nascent 11-party opposition alliance PDM’s struggle against the PTI-led coalition, Maryam Nawaz has established herself as a leader – much more capable than many others who have been in politics for decades.
She impressed the audiences through her addresses at Gujranwala, Karachi and Quetta meetings during the recent weeks.
It can be safely predicted that she is Benazir Bhutto of the PML-N, although it is difficult to say whether she will be able to reach the echelons of politics that the assassinated PPP leader did.
No doubt the situation the Sharifs family has been going through for some time is very difficult it is totally helpful to Maryam.
Her father – Nawaz Sharif – has been in London since November last year for medical reasons and, barring some unforeseen development, has no immediate plans to return to the country he ruled thrice as prime minister. Because of his absence from the country he can’t participate in the public meetings being organized by the PDM to build pressure against the government. He can only address the participants through a video link.
Her uncle Shehbaz Sharif, who has been leading the PML-N since the disqualification of his elder brother by the court, is in the NAB custody facing investigations. Because of his captivity, he cannot take part in public meetings.
Cousin Hamza, who is the leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, is also in the NAB custody and, hence, away from the political scene.
Maryama’s mother – Begum Kulsoom – who could run the party in the absence of her husband as she did briefly after the 1999 overthrow of the PML-N government by Gen Pervez Musharraf, passed away more than a year ago.
Maryam’s brothers Hussain and Hassan live in London and will not return to Pakistan because of a number of cases pending against them. Also, they don’t take part in politics.
Other party leaders – even very senior among them – have practically accepted Maryam as their de facto leader. It is because of this reason that when she is there, she speaks for the party and other leaders prefer to keep silent.
This means that the field is wide open for Maryam and she has to lead the party in the times ahead. The future of the party is in her hands.
Like her father, she is a confrontationist – and crosses all limits while taking on the rivals – in the government or the establishment.
Her uncle is an advocate of the policy of conciliation. He thinks that the politicians and army would have to work together to steer the country out of its multiple problems.
However, this approach has been rejected by Nawaz Sharif.
According to some media reports he has disliked his party leaders’ recent contacts with the establishment and their subsequent meeting with incarcerated Shehbaz Sharif.
Maryam, it is believed, wants to prove herself more anti-establishment figure than her father.
She has also created room for herself in the PDM. Senior leaders like Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who heads the coalition, happily participates in the meetings where Maryam is there. Same is the case with Ahe Hadith leader Professor Sajid Mir.
Whether the PML-N will really go by this confrontational policy and stay united in times ahead, remains to be seen. The answer to this question will become clear when the establishment unveiled its strategy to counter opposition’s onslaught.
For the time being, the establishment is just monitoring the situation. Probably it wants the PML-N to show its cards before it is confronted with a counter-strategy.
Superfluous to reiterate that it is the establishment that has to counter the opposition’s plans, the PTI is just a façade of the establishment.