ISLAMABAD     -   With Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his finance minister on one side and the elder Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz on the other, the recent petrol price hike has once again brought to surface the internal fissures of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said , party supremo Nawaz Sharif “strongly opposed” the government’s decision to raise petroleum prices. Maryam Nawaz’s tweet in the wake of fuel price hike reflects a bit of annoyance with the government over increasing fuel price. In the tweet, Maryam said that Nawaz walked out of a meeting after saying that he “cannot even burden the people with another penny”, and that “if the government’s hands are tied, then I wouldn’t own this decision”. Maryam also distanced herself from the decision, saying that she “stands with the people” and “cannot support this decision”. On Monday night, the government increased the price of petrol by Rs 6.72 per litre and reduced the price of high-speed diesel by Rs 0.51 and kerosene oil by Rs 1.67 per litre effective from August 16 (yesterday). The government decided to raise prices when they had dropped in the international market.

According to the party sources, power struggle is also going on within the family. At present, Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz are in command when it comes to the party affairs. Some weeks back, Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz were prime minister and chief minister Punjab respectively. Then Hamza Shehbaz lost the seat to Ch Pervez Elahi. At the same time, Maryam Nawaz is sitting idle. The sources said that Nawaz Sharif wants to give more powers to Maryam Nawaz. He wants Maryam Nawaz to lead the party rallies and election campaigns — a decision that reflects elder Sharif’s desire that Maryam should lead the party instead of his uncle and cousin until he returns to the country. The bitterness in the Maryam Nawaz’ tweet also negates the good cop/bad cop notion.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail was also seen on back foot after Nawaz ‘strongly’ opposed fuel price hike. Regarding petroleum products, the finance minister said that the issue of petrol is automatic and comes from Ogra. “We do not increase or decrease the tax, we sent it to the prime minister for approval,” he clarified. Ismail’s remarks come after PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz took to twitter to say that party supremo Nawaz Sharif had strongly opposed the decision to raise the price of petrol. Ismail said he stood behind the decision and said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif should be given credit too for bearing stress as a political leader and approving the increase in prices. According to the party sources, Nawaz Sharif is not happy with Finance Minister Miftah Ismail. He wants Ishaq Dar to run the economy. The disagreement between the two camps is evident and the PML-N is now really a divided camp.