Considering the kind of performance Maryam Nawaz has exhibited, the vice president deserved a chance to lead the party as its president, said PML-N chairman Raja Zafarul Haq, who confirmed that intra-party polls will be held on December 30.
However, a party source close to the Shehbaz family claimed that this seemed a very unlikely proposition. Although he did not completely rule out the possibility, he pointed out that it would be odd to take away the party’s presidency from Shehbaz Sharif, the incumbent prime minister.
The ruling party, after it was served final show cause notice for failing to hold intra-party elections by the ECP, had assured the top poll supervisory body earlier in November of holding elections by end of this year. Given that the failure to comply with the final show cause of ECP entails possible punishment, PML-N seems determined to hold elections on December 30 – which also happens to be its foundation day.
Both the party chairman and special assistant to the PM confirmed that the party elections will be held on December 30. Raja, talking to The Express Tribune shared that the election process for all the portfolios will begin a few days prior to the Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting.
Asked about Maryam’s possible accession to the party’s helm, Raja admitted that he too has been hearing rumours regarding the vice president being considered for the party’s president portfolio.
He lauded Maryam’s performance and the way she led the party in the absence of her father and party supremo Nawaz Sharif, saying that it proved her credentials He added that Maryam was by all means prepared to assume the role.
Asked about the timeline of the election process, the PML-N chairman said it usually begins a few days before the election date, adding that portfolios were normally decided with ‘consensus’ beforehand and that the CWC meeting only ratifies the names.
In response to a question regarding incumbent party president Shehbaz Sharif, Raja said that Shehbaz was a senior party leader and will be accommodated in a senior position.
It is pertinent to mention here that in February 2018, PML-N bigwigs had through a resolution declared Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified from holding party presidency and then his premiership, as “[the party’s] Quaid (leader) for life” – giving him an honorary position in the party the day Shehbaz was made the acting president of the party.
Shehbaz Sharif has been holding the office since then.
‘A change party desperately needs’
A former district chairman also echoed PML-N chairman Raja Zafarul Haq while talking to The Express Tribune and said Maryam Nawaz would be the kind of change the party desperately needed.
He, on the condition of anonymity, said Maryam had the capacity to resonate with young voters. However, he added, sideling PML-N president and incumbent prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, who is seen as “a poster boy” for his performance in PML-N circles, will trigger a public debate in general about the party being a family enterprise.
And the opposition will love to fest on this opportunity, he added.
He also noted that the decision will not sit well with the “Shehbaz camp” which, despite being in power in the party and otherwise, gets dominated by the Maryam-led camp when the latter desires.
He said that the space for Shehbaz-led politics will be largely minimised if Maryam took to the party throne. However, he pointed out that there was only chatter within the party about Maryam’s desire for the slot and there was no official confirmation.
He further pointed out that both camps follow different policies with Shehbaz Sharif’s side taken to be a proponent of reconciliatory politics while on the contrary, the Maryam-led camp is usually seen as favouring retaliatory politics over reconciliatory politics.
It is pertinent to mention here that Maryam Nawaz left for London in October to be with her father Nawaz Sharif who has been residing in the European capital since 2019 on “medical grounds” and treatment purposes.
According to multiple PML-N sources, the father-daughter duo to multiple PML-N sources, are expected to return in December to lead the party.