September 18, 2020

Video by Ahmed Saeed

Text by Xari Jalil

Maryam Nawaz has emerged as the only woman leader from within the PML-N and has taken assertive command of the party, but her methods may not be preferred by many others of the old guard… 


Will Maryam Nawaz make an appearance in Sunday’s upcoming multi-party conference in Islamabad or not? This is a question that has been a source of puzzlement as the conference organized by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and hosted by the Pakistan People’s Party draws nearer.

The quandary arose after conflicting statements surfaced from the central leaders of PML-N on whether the party’s only female firebrand will be participating in the gathering of the opposition parties.

Speaking to, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi minced no words in confirming that Maryam Nawaz would be attending the opposition moot on Sunday and rubbished reports of any differences within the party.

But Rana Sana Ullah, former Punjab law minister had other things to say about the matter.

Rana said that being a party head, Shahbaz Sharif would be the one to lead the PML-N delegation to the moot where all party heads were converging. He added that the party has not yet made a decision on whether Maryam would be participating in the meeting.

Whispers of a Rift?

This is not the first time that differences within the party have risen concerning the leadership roles and political strategy. In the past too, there has been talk of disagreements between the two family members. Maryam, desiring to be her father’s political successor, favors an aggressive political strategy to give a tough time to the ruling government. On the other hand, Shahbaz favors a milder, more conservative approach by staying clear of any adventurism or being part of any wider opposition movement against the government. The conservative approach has been pulling in opinions from all sides of late, so much so that JUI-F’s Abdul Ghafoor Haideri pointed out the blatant hesitancy shown by ‘major parties’ in coming out on the streets against the present government. Haideri demands that all of the opposition parties must struggle together in order to oust the government.

A firebrand speaker for her party, Maryam Nawaz, has been quite the rebel over the past few years, with her poised appearance and an image of a privileged daughter, but in fact, displaying the firm and assertive manner of a commander who held a slew of public gatherings in cities across Punjab. Later though after Nawaz Sharif went to London for treatment, and her mother Kulsoom Nawaz passed away, she chose to remain silent.

In August 2020, her party workers clashed with police officials upon her arrival at the NAB office in Lahore after she was summoned in a case of alleged illegal transfer of government land. Gradually and over time, PML-N’s party workers have come to accept the difference in the leadership styles between Shahbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz.

Ultimately the rift may not even have been so serious, but the level of dislike emerging from some quarters of the establishment against Maryam’s ‘combative’ stance compared to Shahbaz’s ‘appeasing’ one might have taken stronger precedence.